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Vegan Wine:

What’s All the Fuss About

Tyler Thomas

Whether the Vegan movement is a trend or a sustainable spectacle, the popularity is on the rise. The 2018 vegan market size was valued at $12.69 billion and the growth is expected to continue.The vegan debate is more complex than simply a following of hipsters eager to shut down the meat industry. 

The topic is intertwined in ethics… i.e. the very intricate issue regarding animal cruelty which has both objective realities and subjective moralities pending one’s views on the topic.  Not only that but the argument for better health and even a healthier world both get wrapped into the conversation of the vegan argument. 

Some would say it’s a fad; everyone has seen the vegan Instagram post of a beyond burger or some other meatless protein meal paired with their favorite wine.  Many times, these posters are unaware the wine and the bread in the post could contain byproducts of meat. 

Photo by Wildflower Vegan Cafe,
Millville, NJ

So Where Does Wine Fit In?

Where the idea of natural wines has been a huge trend in the wine industry, vegan friendly wine has yet to become a craze even with a potentially large following. 

The problem is that most people, vegans included are unaware that most wines out there cannot be labeled as vegan since they contain fining agents.These fining agents are to clarify the wine and remove yeast proteins and cloudiness in the wine.  They can contain blood and bone marrow, casein from milk, fish oil, and a product called isinglass or fish bladder gelatin. 

These fining agents have played an important part in winemaking for many years and even if these byproducts are filtered out of the final product, they are inherently not vegan friendly.6 

Vegan Wine for Consumers.

Vegan food is enjoying a renaissance in the restaurant scene. Many restaurants proudly claim natural sustainable wines and cocktails on their menus. (Which can be a subjective topic at dinner.)  Natural wine doesn’t necessarily mean vegan wine.

Wines that claim the vegan label use meatless products for wine clarification such as clay, carbon, limestone, and plant casein.  They can even give the wine time to have the sediment settle out of the wine, but this would add more time and money for most winemakers which isn’t always feasible unless selling at a premium price.

This means that many “fine” wines are already vegan friendly since they can spare the expense to sell an expensive bottle. 

Photo by @vedgephiladelphia

Vedge in Philadelphia make their diners happy to be eating meatless entrees.

A Few Examples.

There are many options for vegans to be able to drink wine happily.  It also depends how much research one wants to do. Even the strictest of vegans must admit that it can be a duty to research all that’s involved in the ingredients and processes in making wine.  For instance, can you really find the information if animal manure was used on the fields where the grapes grew?7 This all depends on how far one is willing to travel down the vegan rabbit hole.

Ridge Winery in California doesn’t use animal byproducts in their winemaking and they also don’t advertise it, but they are one of the few wineries that list the ingredients on the label which should please the educated vegan wine drinker.

There is also a new vegan wine gem out in the market called The Wonderful Wine Co. who covers a lot of different facets that get people excited about drinking wine guilt free.  They are a direct to consumer wine company specializing in eco-friendly packaging, natural winemaking methods, and of course are vegan.5   

Photo from WIkipedia.com

Fan favorite, Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck is a vegan friendly wine. 

* The vegan world is not only geared towards hipsters and Instagram, even MMA fighters like Nate Diaz claim do not eat meat.  But in a world where the consumer is so distant from their food source it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that many of the foods we thought were meatless actually contain byproducts of meat.  Even the most basic of foods like bread contain meat byproducts or even more strange; ingredients that contain byproducts of human hair.2

Sources:

  1. https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/vegan-food-market
  2. https://www.vrg.org/blog/2011/03/09/l-cysteine-in-bread-products-still-mostly-sourced-from-human-hair-duck-feathers-hog-hair/
  3. https://www.peta.org/about-peta/faq/is-wine-vegan/
  4. https://www.vegan.com/wine/
  5. https://www.forbes.com/sites/margauxlushing/2020/05/20/this-new-dtc-wine-brand-is-vegan-eco-friendly-and-pedigreed/#3b7c66c16e72
  6. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/not-all-wines-are-vegan-heres-how-to-find-ones-that-are/2018/06/15/a596763e-70c8-11e8-bd50-b80389a4e569_story.html
  7. https://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/vegan-effects-on-winemaking-practice

2 thoughts on “Vegan Wine: What’s It All About”

  1. As a wine and food novice, who is typically turned off to trying anything with vegan in the title, this article poked my curiosity. If I can find one, maybe I’ll grab a vegan bottle on my next wine run and give it shot!

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