Last weekend I attended the Great Yorkshire Vegan Festival to introduce our range of Vegan Wines. As this was my first Vegan Festival I was unsure what to expect and the level of knowledge of those attending, with regards to Vegan Wines. I have to say that I was shocked that so many Vegans did not realise that just because wines are made from grapes it does not mean that they are Vegan.

Having explained the reasons why so many times over the weekend I realised that there will still be many Vegan and non-Vegan wine drinkers out there who don’t understand the difference. So for those interested here is a simple explanation.

Wine, both Still and Sparkling, is indeed made from Grapes. These are pressed and yeast is added to the collected juice, which converts the sugars in the grapes to alcohol. However, this process does not produce the nice clear and bright liquid that we like to see when purchasing our wines. The fermented wine will be cloudy and contain particles that are naturally produced during the fermentation process. Although the wine at this stage would be completely safe to drink, the winemaker and consumer wants a clear bright wine.

To remove the particles the winemaker has to filter these particles out and does this using a process called fining with fining agents. The most common fining agents used are:

Albumin (egg white)
Casein (a protein found in milk)
Gelatine (a protein derived from animals)
Isinglass (fish bladder protein, also used in beer production)

Minute traces of the fining agents may be absorbed by the wine during the process and therefore are off limits for Vegans and the latter two for Vegetarians as well. Currently, it is not compulsory for wine to be labelled Vegan or to state what fining agent is used, making it very difficult for Vegans to identify what wines they can and can’t drink.

The good news is that we do a range of wines (Still and Sparkling) where the producer uses bentonite (clay based) or activated charcoal which are acceptable to both Vegans and Vegetarians.

It is also important to dispel the misconception that using Vegan friendly finings make the wine more expensive, it does not and although some might we do not place any premium on our wines just because they are Vegan and we clearly identify in our Brochure which wines are Vegan.

For more information on our vegan wines, or for any other wine enquiries, please contact barry@yorkshirewinerascal.com