Vegan wines are on the up – here’s what you need to know about them

Vegan wines are on the up – here’s what you need to know about them

Vegan wines were cited as one of the 2019 wine trends to watch, thanks to our increasing appetite for all things plant-based.

And while some online retailers have ‘vegan wine’ sections on their websites, trying to find one can be quite vexing at times.

“With the rise of vegan food, restaurants and cafés comes the rise of vegan wines,” says Nicholas Jones, head buyer and winemaker at Winebuyers.com, an online wine club connecting vineyards, producers and specialist merchants with wine lovers.

(iStock/PA)
(iStock/PA)

Want to know how to up your vegan wine game? Jones explains everything you need to know…

What’s the difference between vegan wine and non-vegan wine?

“Many would naturally think that all wine is vegan; it’s made from grapes after all. However, most wines are not and that is down to the ‘fining’ process when winemaking.

“Most young wines are cloudy in colour and contain tiny molecules of proteins, yeast and other organic particles. However, most wine lovers like their wine clear and bright, and many fining and clarification methods can be used to accelerate this clarification of a wine.

Vegan white: Viu Manent – Secret Viognier 2017, Chile, £14.74, Winebuyers.com (Winebuyers.com/PA)
Vegan white: Viu Manent – Secret Viognier 2017, Chile, £14.74, Winebuyers.com  (Winebuyers.com/PA)

“Waiting for solids to sink by gravity and skimming off the clarified juice takes time and with some protein-rich grape varieties, it’s near-on impossible and very wasteful.

“The greater time the juice is left to settle increases the chances of microbes spoiling the juice, and therefore it’s a swell idea to get it clean and fermenting as soon as you can.

“So, fining agents are used to polish a final wine again where time doesn’t allow for gravity to take its course. Traditionally, fining agents are of animal origin; most notably gelatin, fish oil, and egg whites. But, these products are carefully removed from the remaining wine as the whole point of their addition is to clarify the wine and not leave floaters behind.

“The addition of animal derived products doesn’t mean they end up in your glass, as these compounds are separated from what you drink, but there is an outside chance that a miniscule amount of these will end up in your system.

“From a vegan perspective, it’s the exploitation of animals that are used in the winemaking process, and not necessarily having animals end up in the final bottle, that counts.

“Other filtering and fining agents are used in vegan wines, and a favourite for me is derived from a pea protein. A lot of winemakers use a clay-based finer called bentonite, or potatoes get the job done too.”

Does vegan wine taste different?

“The wines would have differences in flavour due to the different treatment in the winemaking process. Every action, or inaction, in the winery has a result. With a huge number of variables at play, it wouldn’t be fair to say if a vegan wine would taste better or worse though.”

So how can you to tell if a wine is vegan?

Vegan red: Momo – Pinot Noir 2017, Marlborough, New Zealand, £17.98, Winebuyers.com (Winebuyers.com/PA)
Vegan red: Momo – Pinot Noir 2017, Marlborough, New Zealand, £17.98, Winebuyers.com (Winebuyers.com/PA)

“When it comes to telling if your wine is vegan, this can be tricky as there are no rules about needing to list all the ingredients on a wine bottle.

“However, the rising interest in vegan wines in recent years has meant that most winemakers are labelling their wine vegan-friendly – and websites, like Winebuyers.com, will have a section dedicated to vegan products, making them much easier to find.”

Can we expect to see more vegan wines making themselves known?

“As for the future of vegan wines, I believe this is only set to increase in popularity. Where a rise of veganism is seen, wine will follow.

“However, the more we educate people that vegan wines are not necessarily any better for them, or the environment, we could see a dip in the other direction.”

For more information, visit Winebuyers.com which has more than 700 vegan wines available.

- Press Association

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