Hang on a minute! How can a wine NOT be vegan and vegetarian if it’s made from grapes? The answer to that lies in the way that the wines are clarified. Most wines these days are filtered and fined to remove sediments, remaining yeast, tartrate crystals etc. For the most part this is a decision driven by aesthetics and nothing else as many winemakers believe that we consumers demand crystal clear wines with no haze or sediment. Naturally, if left for long enough, wines will clarify unaided as the sediment is allowed to accumulate and settle at the bottom of the bottle. Modern pressure on many winemakers however means there is a desire to speed the process up by using binding agents.
How are these elements removed from wines? Well, there are a number of methods and some of them use animal derived products such as egg albumen, casein (a milk protein) Isinglass (from fish bladders) and Chitosan (from crustacean shells). These are added to the wines and bind to the particulates and cause them to clump and settle much faster, they can then be filtered out of the wine. However, many winemakers realise that the desire to create a wine of crystal clarity with no sediment etc comes at a cost…flavour and character. Also, some winemakers want to avoid the use of animal products in their wine for ethical reasons. Natural wines, by their very nature, are largely vegan friendly and at Wine Fiend we try our upmost to make sure that a healthy selection of our wines are Vegan and Vegetarian friendly.