Food & Drink

Vegan Wines 101: Step Up Your Wine Knowledge

February 1, 2022 — by Valeriya Vimon

Wine isn’t exactly a drink that you would expect to have a connection with animal products and animal exploitation. However, it is possible. The winemaking process is meant to lead to something high-quality, diverse, and flavorful. But does that mean that all wines are actually produced in the same way? Nope, some, in fact, hurt animals in the process.

So, if you’re considering taking a plunge into veganism, you’ll probably be shocked to learn that your favourite drink is actually quite bad for the animal world. But worry not, just like there are many vegan-friendly alternatives to dairy, eggs and even meat – you can find wines that are made with zero impact on animals.

Whether you’re looking for a vegan Merlot or want to try out some vegan white wines, there is a lot to learn and discover, especially regarding how they are made, what goes into them and how they compare with regular wines. Let’s take a look at some interesting things you never knew about vegan wines.

A glass of white wine with grapes beside it

Why Isn’t All Wine Vegan?

You might’ve thought that wine was just fermented grape juice, but unfortunately, that’s not the case in most wineries. Actually, wine is typically made with fish bladders or animal parts.

Fish bladders have no taste, they are used to fine wine, which means that after fermentation the wine is filtered to remove protein and other solids because wine without fining agents has a cloudy appearance, which consumers don’t like. The fining agent, called isinglass, a form of gelatin derived from fish bladders, is added after the wine has been clarified and bottled, so it doesn’t add any flavour, it just serves as a clarifying substance.

Two glasses of white organic wine

Another common wine fining agent is casein from cow’s milk, but there are many other possibilities, like egg whites and even albumin taken from the urinary systems of male horses. Some wineries use these potent substances, yet some don’t, however, surprisingly, no one says anything about it on the label.

With that being said, you might’ve changed the way you think about regular wine. As an alternative, you can treat yourself with different types of vegan wines that harm no animals in the production process that can make your wine-drinking experience as enjoyable as it was back when you indulged in regular wines. But even if you’re not vegan, there are many reasons why drinking cruelty-free wine is far better than standard wine.

Reasons to Drink Vegan Wine (Even If You Aren’t Vegan Yourself)

It’s Eco-friendly and Chemical-free

Vegan wine is the ideal drink for health and environment-conscious individuals. The very fact that they are vegan, makes them eco-friendly and chemical-free, in the sense that no animal products are used during the winemaking process.

However, there is also an added advantage to these wines when it comes to protecting the environment. Many of the chemicals that are being used in non-vegan wines come from animal by-products, along with the environmental cost of producing a bottle of wine that equals that of driving a car for five miles.

Sipping white a glass of wine

Fertilisers and herbicides are also sprayed throughout the grape growing season in regular wineries, which can cause allergic reactions in people consuming those grapes. These chemicals can also kill off helpful organisms and creatures within the soil, which can promote disease in both plants and animals. And while some chemicals may kill harmful organisms, they can also harm non-target organisms like butterflies or bees, whose populations are already dwindling due to habitat loss and pesticide use. Therefore, buying vegan wines eliminates harming these unfortunate insects in the winemaking process.

The most important thing to look for when buying vegan white wine or red ones is whether they have been certified as vegan or not. This will ensure that no animal products were used during the winemaking process. These wines can be found at specialist wine shops, in some health food shops or online.

It Can Reduce Your Blood Sugar Level

A lot of people living with high blood sugar like to take extra steps and precautions when it comes to consuming food, so they usually turn to stevia as a sugar alternative, along with avoiding alcohol entirely. However, diabetics and people with high blood sugar can enjoy their glass of vegan wine every once in a while, since vegan wine can play a very important role in maintaining the health of your body. Unlike other types of alcohol, it can reduce the blood sugar level and lower the risk of developing diabetes when consumed in moderation because it only contains organic natural sugars.

It Can Last Longer and Taste Better

Organic vegan wines generally have a longer shelf life, and the reason is that the tannins in grape skins and seeds – the compounds responsible for giving wines their colour, structure and astringency – also have an antioxidant effect, so long as they are not oxidized themselves.

A glass of white wine

In other words, the same natural plant compounds that give the wine its colour and texture are also protecting it from oxidation, therefore, there is no need for animal-harming by-products to play the antioxidant role in the winemaking process.

In addition to that, vegan wines sometimes have more acidity due to higher levels of tartaric acid, which makes them taste even better than regular wines since they have that ‘kick’. Taste, however, depends on the consumer, so if you are used to tasting drier and sweeter wines, you might want to add a little sweetener to adjust the taste, especially in your glass of vegan friendly white wine, given that it tends to taste more acidic.

It’s the Future of Wine Production

Vegan wines are not only increasing in number, they’re getting better year after year. More winemakers are becoming aware of the market for vegan wines and many of them are actually making new wines to cater to this niche group. In fact, some wineries have even ceased selling their regular wines so that they can focus on producing vegan wines. The wine industry is serving a growing market, and this means good things for vegans and animal rights activists in the coming years as more and more people discover vegan wines.