What Makes A Wine Vegan? How Do I Know?

Hello again, lovely humans. Mommy blogger intro time: This weekend my boyfriend and I decided to stock up on alcohol, while they’re offering curbside pickup. I’m not a huge drinker, so when I buy alcohol I try to buy from a good brand, or a local brand, the latter of which is not hard in Wisconsin! I saw a few wines promote themselves as vegan, and it got me wondering why they’d bother.

If you’re sober, and want to follow a lovely human who shares alcohol-free cocktails and reviews different products, I highly recommend Millie Gooch on Instagram, and I’m sorry that this blog doesn’t apply to you! If you’re not sober, keep reading on.

If it’s just fermented grapes, aren’t all wines vegan?

There are very few wines that are still made with JUST fermented grapes (and water, obviously). Most wines commonly contain a few enzymes and additives to enhance the flavor or serve as preservatives, such as calcium carbonate or sulfur dioxide. Great. Good. Makes sense. [Source]

Winemaking is traditionally slow, where grape juice needs to settle and ferment, during which time a wine clarifies itself naturally. Since that’s a slow process, science has figured out how to make it quicker through a process called fining. Animal products are used as “processing aids”, where they’re added to wine to bind and remove substances that are filtered out. [Source]

If wines use animal products, why aren’t they on the ingredients list?

The most commonly used animal product fining agents were casein (the milk protein), albumin (egg whites), gelatin, and isinglass (fish bladder protein). Since they’re processing aids, they’re not *technically* added to the wine; the fining agents are filtered out before bottling. Sure, trace amounts may make it in to the bottle, but they’re not actually in the wine. [Source]

There also aren’t many requirements when it comes to wine labels and disclosing ingredients. Ya know, lobbying and all that fun stuff.

So, how do I know if a wine is vegan?

Obviously, many vegan wines do label their wines as such, because it’s a selling point!

Two loopholes: If you look for a wine that’s labeled as “unfined”, then there wasn’t a fining process, so there weren’t animal products used for fining. If a wine is labeled as Kosher, it also means that no animal products were used during the creation of the wine, so you’re safe!

If you want to plan your purchases ahead of time, you can use databases like Barnivore or BevVeg to look for vegan drinks. The TTB, USDA, and FDA don’t regulate the term “vegan” in alcohol. [Source] To close the gap, BevVeg offers a certification for alcoholic beverages, including a recognizable symbol and a mobile app, to proudly share their vegan status.

What are some wines I can buy at grocery stores that are vegan?

This is NOT a sponsored list, but some of my favorite vegan wines that you can readily find at Total Wine, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and Kroger include:

  • Seven Daughters Moscato: YAY! This is actually my favorite wine (I know, moscato, refined palette) so I was thrilled all of Seven Daughters wines are widely available and vegan. I can find it at Total Wine and any grocery store.
  • Freakshow Cabernet: Michael David Winery’s wines are all Vegan, and widely available. I’ve most commonly seen Freakshow and 7 Deadly Zins (Zinfandel) but you can find it at most grocery stores, and check out where it’s sold on this map.
  • Natura Rosé: Bonus points for Natura since not only are they vegan, but they’re also grown organically. They’re widely available in a whole bunch of grocery stores.
  • Fetzer White Wines: Though not all of their wines are vegan (yet) Fetzer is a pioneer in winery sustainability. They strive to be 99.9% Zero Waste, they’re a B-Corporation, and they publicly report greenhouse gas emissions. Find them at Target, Total Wine, and more.

Hope this article has been helpful for you! Let me know what you think and follow me here and on Instagram @lowwastelottie.

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