It’s a common misconception that all wines are vegan. We can understand why you’d think so- it’s made from a grape, which is a plant, and there aren’t any dairy products in it- but we’re here to tell you the truth. Not all wines are vegan and here’s why.
There are a handful of animal byproducts that are used during the winemaking process, and although they aren’t technically in the wine, their use does inherently render the wine unavailable for vegans. There is a part of the production process called “fining,” which uses byproducts like casein and gelatin, or even egg whites, to filter out the wine making it clear and less cloudy. These products also help tamp down the extreme effects of tannins, helping to create a smoother finish on the wine itself.
There are wines that have been fined with other additives that aren’t from an animal but they can be man-made chemicals or forms of natural substances that alter the flavor of the wine like Bentonite which is similar to activated charcoal.
Even if you aren’t a vegan, it may make you uncomfortable to know that animal byproducts are involved in your wine’s making, which is why the natural wine movement has been so successful. Natural wines mean there have been no additives or preservatives involved in the winemaking process, rendering the wines slightly cloudy and “unfined,” so you know there haven’t been animal products that have touched your wines.
This sounds pretty great, right? Well, yeah, natural wines are delicious, however they barely resemble the wine we’ve come to know. Because it’s unfiltered and unfined, the little pieces and particles that are formed during fermentation are still present. Think sour beer but made with grapes.
Orange wines are also part of the natural wine family, made by fermenting the skins of the grapes in the juice. These are becoming hugely popular as they come out with an intensely tannic fruit flavor that has a clearer pour.
Restaurants and bars all over New York are participating in this new movement of natural and vegan wines, creating an inclusive opportunity for wine drinks of all varieties to enjoy a beverage. There are also a ton of wineries online that sell their vegan wines, which means you can order them from anywhere.
Here are some tips for buying natural wines:
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