Animal Products In Wine: Can Vegans Drink Wine?

Why are there animal products in wine?
Last Updated: June 7th, 2021

There are animal products in wine, unfortunately.  

I imagine you’re probably asking yourself – Isn’t wine just made with grapes? The answer to that is of course – yes, wine is made with just grapes, but there are different processes when making wine which makes a wine suitable for vegans or not because animal products are occasionally used in the creation of wine.

The question we need to answer is: What is the ‘fining process’, and how does it work?

In our post “where can I find vegan wine” we explained a little about “The fining process”, which is a process where a substance (usually a fining agent – fish guts, or egg) is added to the wine to create a bond with the suspended particles in the wine; therefore producing larger particles that will precipitate out of the wine more rapidly. 

Why are animal products used in wine production?

Now there is speculation as to whether or not fining is actually needed in winemaking practices. Most young wines if they’re left long enough will eventually reach the same state as fining achieves after a few months, but obviously, some larger winemakers don’t have time on their hands!

But it’s the products used in the fining process that create a potential moral hazard for vegans lifestyles and vegetarian diets.

Though bull’s blood, a traditional fining agent, was banned by the EU a few years ago, a number of animal-derived products are still permitted for the production of wine sold in Europe. Among the most prevalent are isinglass (fish bladders), gelatin, casein (milk protein) and albumen (egg whites).

The good news for you guys is that a lot of wine-makers are dropping the use of animal-derived fining agents and are now starting to only use something called ‘bentonite’ – bentonite is a clay-based mineral, that has no animal product links at all!

How to recognise wines without fining agents and animal products

If you are on a plant-based diet or are simply against dairy products, then there will be some crucial points that you need to take note of in order to continue to enjoy wine! This is what you need to know: 

  • Wines that are unfined are suitable for vegans.
  • Unfiltered wines are suitable for vegans as well.
  • Wine labels don’t have to explicitly say whether or not they’ve used animal products.
  • A wine being Organic doesn’t guarantee that it’s Vegan!
  • Some wineries use bentonite to fine protein from white wines instead of eggs or fish guts.
  • You might also want to learn more about sugar in wine as vegan wines are commonly low sugar wines. 

4 vegetarian and vegan-friendly wine suggestions

Hugh Hamilton Jim Jim Shiraz 2015 – ONLY £12.00

Jim Jim Shiraz

Produced from 100% Shiraz in the McLaren Vale in Southern Australia this wine has a brilliant story! The wine was named after the winemakers faithful Labrador/Kelpie. Every vintage Jim Jim (the dog) would eat Shiraz grapes only when they were ripe for the picking, so with viticultural skills like that Hugh Hamilton (The Winemaker) decided he should get his own brand. Jim Jim went to the big kennel in the sky in November 2010 but his talent is remembered in his wines.

Cellers Barbara Fores Blanco 2017

Cellers Barbara Fores Blanco - Vegan wine

Cellers Barbara Fores Blanc 2016 is made with a blend of Garnacha Blanca and Viognier and is grown in vineyards between 350 and 600 meters above sea level, where it enjoys great exposure to the sun and has limited rainfall throughout the year. The harshness of the continental climate is offset by the Mediterranean which provides an ideal climate for winemaking. The grape-harvest is entirely done by hand and at the very moment when each wine-varietal has reached its optimum ripeness.

Yetti and the Kokonut Pet Nat 2018 (PTC LIMITED RELEASE)

Yetti and the Kokonut Pet Nat - Vegan Wine

The Yetti and the Kokonut Pet Nat is a fun and frisky Pet Nat, and is Extremely limited! The Pinot Blanc and Pinot Meunier were picked from vineyards in the Barossa Valley during February of the 2018 vintage. The wine was bottled before fermentation finished with a good amount of sugar for the wild yeasts to chow down on and get some fizz action happening. Want to learn more? Discover what is pet nat.

Where can I find wines suitable for vegans on Pull The Cork?

We’re always here to help! The great news is that we have a vegan category on our shop page. We currently list a lot of vegan wines, but this number is soon to increase!

Selecting wines from this section means you can guarantee that you’ll be able to buy vegan-friendly wines you can enjoy at home to match your plant-based.

A quick tip: If you prefer red wine, find out how long does red wine last once opened.

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