Jazmin Kopotsha | Culture Writer | Friday, 21 April 2017

The Vegan Wines Guide

The Vegan Wines Guide: What Are They And Where Can You Find Them?

The Debrief: Allow us to clue you in on the whole 'can I still drink wine if I'm vegan' thing

When you have a dietary requirement, it can sometimes feel like the world is against you. And when I say the world I mean pubs, bars, and supermarket wine aisles. In case you missed it, not all wine is vegan-friendly, guys. I can hear the sound of non-vegan pinot being spat from vegan mouths all over the world too. 

But fear not. Being committed to avoiding all that meat and dairy and stuff doesn’t mean that you’ll forever more be a stranger to the white wine monster within. We did the research for you and found out everything you need to know about getting boozy without breaking the rules. You’re welcome. 

So, can vegans drink wine?

The short answer is yes, of course. It’s just a matter of working out which ones are suitable for vegans because, shock horror, wine isn’t solely made from grapes I’m afraid. The tricky bit is that apparently wine labels don’t actually have to explicitly say whether or not they’ve used animal by-products. 

Why isn’t wine vegan?

It’s because of these things called ‘fining agents’. According to the Australian Wine Research Institute, fining agents are used in the preparation of wine to ‘soften or reduce its astringency and/or bitterness; remove proteins capable of haze formation; or reduce the colour’. So, in short, they make fairly big ol’ changes to the wine before we drink it. 

Is there gelatine in wine?

Gelatine is indeed one of the most commonly-used fining agents for wine, which, as I’m sure you’ll already have mentally tattooed in your brain, sure as hell is not vegan. 

Other common additions to wine are egg white, skim milk, isinglass (fish bladders) and casein (the main protein found in milk), which are all vegan no-nos. But the good news is that things like carbon, as in the C on the periodic table if you’re that way inclined, can also be used for the ‘fining’ process and alter the taste, smell and colour of wine too.  

Are organic wines vegan?

I totally get why you might assume so, but it’s not that simple. Organic wine just means that it’s made without the use of chemical fertilisers and that sort of thing. For a wine to be organic doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t use animal by-products. So, you might happen to find an organic vegan wine, but don’t take it at face value if you’re specifically after a vegan one.

Where can I buy vegan wine?

More places than you might think. The only thing I’d say is that you’ll probably encounter less stress and more luck ordering online than traipsing up and down the aisle of your local supermarket squinting at illegible labels.  

It may surprise you to learn that there is a comprehensive list of vegan-friendly wines in one handy place on the internet. Let me introduce you to Barnivor, it’s literally a boozy directory of alcohol that doesn’t use any animal derivatives. If there’s a brand you already like you can type it into the search bar and it will tell you which (if any) of its wines are safe to guzzle.  

Can you recommend any vegan wines? 

Chances are, you probably recognise Majestic Wines. If not through your own perusal, then from vague memories of being told to ‘stand over there don’t touch anything’ in a disarmingly large store while your parent went ahead and touched every bottle on the shelf, ummed for a while and put them back before someone eventually came over to help. 

These guys have a huge selection of vegan wines. If you’re a fresh and fruity rosé kind of gal, this Italian Pinot Grigio Rosato is a good shout. If white wine is more your thing, look to this New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for a good time. And for you grown-up red fans, I’d recommend this Argentinian Malbec. But if you don’t like the sound of any of those, head over to the Majestic website and take your pick of their 143 vegan wines

Like this? You might also be interested in…

The Perfect Bottle Of Wine Will Cost You A Tenner

6 Foods You Thought Were Vegetarian But Aren’t

Things You Only Know If You’re The Only Vegan In Your Friendship Group

Follow Jazmin on Instagram @JazKopotsha