A lot of people think that the Italian wine industry gets stuck in tradition. They see an industry that has great respect for its heritage and they believe that it can’t move with the times.
But nothing’s further from the truth.
The amount of innovation we see among Italy’s finest wine producers is simply astonishing. These amazing people come up with new ideas constantly, whether that be for new vintages of even new equipment that can benefit the whole industry.
And when it comes to consumers, producers always listen.
After all, it’s people like you who allow the industry to continue growing year after year. For as much passion as Italian wine producers have in regards to their land and their wines, they also want to make the people who purchase their wines as happy as possible.
And that brings us to the subject of vegan wine.
In recent years, there’s been a huge surge in people who’ve decided to go vegan. Right now, it’s estimated that there are about 75.3 million vegans on the planet.
And most of those people live in countries that have thriving wine industries.
So, it strands to reason that a lot of producers will start offering vegan wine products. In this article, we’re going to take a look at what vegan wines are and offer you some tips for finding them.
What is Vegan Wine
We already know what you’re thinking…
“Hold on a second! Isn’t all wine vegan by default? After all, it’s made using grapes and yeast, right? That’s just fruit and fungus so why would anybody need to go out of their way to create vegan wines?”
That’s a lot of questions there!
The quick answer is that producing wine isn’t as simple as it may seem. Let’s look at what can happen to make a wine non-vegan.
It all comes down to the fermentation process and the fining agents that a producer uses during it.
As you know, fermentation is that wonderful period of the wine process that involves the conversion of the grape’s natural sugars and juices into alcohol. All of this juice goes into a special fermentation tank with a whole bunch of yeast. And together, those two wonderful ingredients create the alcohol that you’re so fond of.
So far, so good for our vegan drinkers.
But it’s the stage after this fermentation that causes problems. As wine ferments, it gradually uses up the yeast added to the juice. However, it doesn’t use up all of it. Once fermented, the wine will typically contain a lot of molecules that give it a hazy appearance. These include tannins, tartrates, and phenolics.
These are all naturally produced as part of the process. However, they don’t look especially appealing and producers don’t want to send their wines out with all of these little bits in them. That’s why they put their wines through a process called fining.
Think of this as a filtration process.
The producer uses a fining agent to extract all of the little molecules from the wine, thus giving it a clear appearance.
And this is where the non-vegan issue comes in.
Many traditional fining agents are made using animal products. For example, producers often use egg whites to filter out the molecules in red wine. For white wines, they’ll often use milk proteins, which come from various farm animals.
That’s anathema to a vegan who doesn’t want to touch any products that involve the use of animal products.
Now, it’s important to note that these fining agents don’t typically find their way into the finished product. They’re extracted from the wine before it’s put on sale. However, there’s always a possibility that some will get left behind. Plus, the knowledge that those fining agents are used in the first place is enough to put many people off.
So, a vegan wine is a wine made using a different type of process that doesn’t involve fining. Some will argue that this makes the wines more natural, as no external products beyond the yeast get used.
The Tips for Spotting a Vegan Wine
Now, here’s where things can get a little tricky for vegan wine lovers.
The fining agents that producers use are additives to the wine. They’re removed before the wine goes on sale, which means they don’t have to get included on the ingredients list. As a result, you probably won’t find much information by checking out that area of the label.
However, vegan wines tend not to go through the fining process at all. And this means there are a few things that you can look out for to spot them.
The first is the haziness that producers aim to eliminate with fining in the first place. If you can see lots of small molecules floating around in your wine, that usually means that it’s a vegan product. And just in case you’re wondering, it’s perfectly safe to drink this stuff. It only gets removed because of how it looks, rather than for any effects that it can have on you.
Second, many vegan producers will label their wines as such. Of course, you still need to do your own research to ensure the label’s legitimate. But if you see a wine marked as vegan, and it has an appropriate certification, that should be enough.
Thirdly, we also have the use of terms like “unfined” or “unfiltered” on the label. This is the producer’s way of telling you that the wine didn’t go through fining, which means no animal products were used in its production. Again, if you see these words, you’ve likely found a vegan wine.
Check out our website!
We offer a range of vegan wines that you can find easily on our website. Just head to the search bar, type in the word “Vegan”, and you’ll see what we have to offer. We’re aiming to grow this selection in time but this is the ideal way to get your hands on some vegan wine without having to go through too much effort.