A brand-new year means New Year’s resolutions. And for many, going vegan is at the top of their list. Veganuary has become a recognised movement, with many people choosing to stop eating animal products for January. Others use it to kickstart a permanent change in eating habits. Either way, Veganuary numbers are rising. In January 2019, more than 250,000 people pledged to make the change.
But how easy is it for wine-lovers to go vegan? It’s one thing cutting meat from your diet, but what about the wines you enjoy? Some automatically assume that as wine is made from grapes that it’s vegan. However, many wines aren’t, as they are filtered through organic matter such as fish guts. So, if you are making the change to becoming vegan, always check the label first. Luckily, there are lots of vegan wines out there.
Why is vegan wine different from regular wine?
In basic terms, non-vegan wines are produced using something called ‘fining’. This is where fining agents are utilised to extract miniscule molecules of yeast, protein and other matter from wine. And these fining agents are made from animal products, including egg whites and gelatine. Fining is used because it makes the wine sweeter and the liquid clearer.
However, as veganism continues to become more popular, many wine producers are adapting their traditional processes to make vegan wines. These replace finers derived from animal products with products made from vegetables, such as pea protein.
As wine making is so complex and even the smallest change in production techniques affects flavour, it’s not possible to quantify whether vegan wines taste ‘better’ than non-vegan. And it’s also important to realise that there are lots of fine wines that are produced without being filtered or fined, and these are naturally vegan.
Consumers should research their wine carefully if it isn’t clear from the label whether it’s vegan or not. Many producers are now including labelling to make it easier, and we can expect this to continue as veganism becomes more and more popular. Until then, take care and research the wine you’re interested in.
Four vegan wines worth trying for Veganuary 2020
1. Portuguese – Ai Galera, Poetico, Tejo 2017
Made from Tinta Miuada, Trincadeira and Castelao grapes, this wine is 13% ABV. Richly red in colour, its flavour is mostly red berries. Very mellow with a rounded finish, it’s a delicious medium-bodied red wine worth trying.
2. French – Nobody’s Perfect Semillon Muscadelle Blend 2018 from the Monfaucon Estate
Also 13% ABV, this white wine is beautifully fresh and bursts with summery flavour. It’s a lovely pale gold colour with a lemony, zesty finish, nectarine and peachy flavours on the palate and aromas of honeysuckle. Really delicious at any time of the year.
3. Italian – Cabernet Sauvignon, ICP Emilia
Expect an intense flavour from this single varietal wine. It’s rich, warm and full-bodied with plenty of tannin structure. Herby notes mix with raspberry leaf to give a rich vegan wine at 15.5% ABV.
4. English – Bluebell Vineyard Estate, Ashdown Ortega 2018
Made with Siegerrebe and Muller-Thurgau grapes, this is made from early ripening fruit. The result is a wine rich in stone fruits with plenty of peach, plum and apple flavours in the mouth. Made in England, the wine is aged in French oak barrels, leading to a complex product with a buttery, rich finish. At 11.5% ABV, it’s beautifully balanced and well worth trying.