What is Vegan Wine?
Popularity is rising whether the Vegan movement is a trend or a sustainable spectacle. The 2018 vegan market size was valued at $12.69 billion, and the growth is expected to continue.1 The vegan debate is more complex than simply a following of hipsters eager to shut down the meat industry.
The topic is intertwined with ethics, i.e., the very intricate issue regarding animal cruelty which has both objective realities and subjective moralities pending one’s views on the topic. Not only that but the argument for better health and even a healthier world gets wrapped into the conversation of the vegan debate.
Some would say it’s a fad; everyone has seen the vegan Instagram post of a beyond burger or some other meatless protein meal paired with their favorite wine. Often, these posters are unaware that the wine and the bread in the post could contain byproducts of meat.
So Where Does Vegan Wine Fit In?
Where the idea of natural wines has been a massive trend in the wine industry, vegan-friendly wine has yet to become a craze, even with a potentially large following.
The problem is that most people, vegans included, are unaware that most wines out there cannot be labeled as a vegan since they contain fining agents.3 These fining agents are to clarify the wine and remove yeast proteins and cloudiness in the wine. They can include bone marrow, casein from milk, fish oil, and a product called isinglass or fish bladder gelatin.
These fining agents have played an essential part in winemaking for many years. However, even if these byproducts are filtered out of the final product, they are inherently not vegan-friendly.
Vegan Wine for Consumers.
Vegan food is enjoying a renaissance in the restaurant scene. Many restaurants proudly claim natural, sustainable wines, and cocktails on their menus. (This can be a subjective topic at dinner.) However, natural wine doesn’t necessarily mean vegan wine.
Wines that claim the vegan label use meatless products for wine clarification, such as clay, carbon, limestone, and plant casein. They can even give the wine time to have the sediment settle out of it, but this would add more time and money for most winemakers, which isn’t always feasible unless selling at a premium price.
This means that many “fine” wines are vegan-friendly since they can spare the expense of selling an expensive bottle.
Best Vegan Wine? A Few Examples.
There are many options for vegans to be able to drink wine happily. However, it also depends on how much research one wants to do. Even the strictest vegans must admit that it can be a duty to research all that’s involved in the ingredients and processes of making wine. For instance, can you find the information if animal manure was used on the fields where the grapes grew?7 This all depends on how far one is willing to travel down the vegan rabbit hole.
Ridge Winery in California doesn’t use animal byproducts in their winemaking and doesn’t advertise it. Still, they are one of the few wineries that list the ingredients on the label, which should please the educated vegan wine drinker.
There is also a new vegan wine gem out in the market called The Wonderful Wine Co., which covers a lot of different facets that get people excited about drinking wine guilt-free. They are direct to consumer wine company specializing in eco-friendly packaging, natural winemaking methods, and of course, are vegan.
The vegan world is not only geared towards hipsters and Instagram. Even MMA fighters like Nate Diaz claim they do not eat meat. But in a world where the consumer is so distant from their food source, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that many foods we thought were meatless contain byproducts of meat. Even the most basic foods like bread contain meat byproducts or, even more strange, ingredients that contain byproducts of human hair.