Is wine vegan? Is it not? I think it depends on the vegan. Here’s the deal.
Clarifying wine happens a few different ways. Some of these processes are vegan, and others may not be. Fining is one process of clarification. Fining occurs by adding a “fining agent” to a vat of ready-to-bottle wine to remove sediment. It might have some dead yeast (lees) in it, or perhaps some sediment from maturing, or haze from the fermentation process.
A Real life Example #
Have you heard of consommé? It’s a perfectly clear and fat-free soup. You add egg whites and lean protein and tomatoes to the broth and it creates this net that attracts any impurities and fat on top of the net. Finally, you strain out the soup but leave the gross stuff behind and it’s perfectly clear and glossy.
Fining uses a similar idea but instead of all the gross-ness, fining just uses egg whites. This is not the only fining agent out there, and it’s becoming more and more obsolete – many wineries these days are using other agents that are vegan. The egg white thing takes a lot of work to get cracking, if you know what I mean.
Adding egg whites, or another fining agent, attracts any impurities in the wine to the agent, just like Consomme. Once bound together, the wine gets filtered, this leaves both the fining agent and the impurities behind.
According to research I’ve done, there is no way that the egg whites are able to stay in the wine due to the filtration process. So are you ingesting egg whites? No, definitely not. However, have egg whites technically touched your wine? Well, yes.
Conclusions on that particular method #
Consequently, if you’re vegan because you simply don’t like to eat animal products, this may not bother you. On the other hand, if you are vegan because you don’t believe in using animal products for human consumption, this may bother you.
Good News! There are 100% Vegan Methods #
Not all wines are fined, and not all fined wines are fines with egg whites. As a result, it’s important to do your research on wines. Two ways to do this are: looking up tech sheets for wine, or ask me about it and I’ll see what I can find for you.
In order to find tech sheets on if a wine is vegan or not simply search the title of the wine followed by tech sheets in google or another browser. If you can find the winery website, that’s even better. Typically they have them listed in the wine shopping page. See below for tech sheet examples.
Santa Margherita Tech Sheet which does not specify if the wine is vegan friendly or not. If you come across this, it’s best just to google search “WINE_NAME vegan?” and something should pop up indicating the possibility.
Alternatively, if you’re into Australian wines, they typically specify if the wine is vegan or not. Take a look at this tech sheet from Molly Dooker for Blue Eyed Boy Shiraz (an excellent winery, named for Molly’s son).