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admin | to meditate in silence | 06.08.2014
What I’m less grateful for is the person (or people) who thought it would be a great idea to slosh some animal products through the wine in an effort to make it better, in their opinion.
Fortunately, there are several wineries that either leave their wine unfiltered, or do not use animal products to clarify or filter their lovely libations. I was rather heartbroken to discover that many wines that have been favourites of mine for years are, in fact, not vegan friendly at all.
The reason that all wines are not vegan or even vegetarian-friendly has to do with how the wine is clarified and a process called ‘fining’. Traditionally the most commonly used fining agents were casein (a milk protein), albumin (egg whites), gelatin (animal protein) and isinglass (fish bladder protein). Fining with casein and albumin is usually acceptable by most vegetarians but all four are off limits for vegans because tiny traces of the fining agent may be absorbed into the wine during the fining process. In addition, the move to more natural winemaking methods, allowing nature to take its course, means more vegan and vegetarian-friendly wines.
Apart from mentioning whether it has been fined or filtered, wine labels typically do not indicate whether the wine is suitable for vegans or vegetarians, or what fining agents were used.
So, if the ingredients are not listed how is a vegan wine drinker to know whether a wine is vegan-friendly or not? Firstly, these days, especially in New York City, and I am sure in other major metropolitan areas, there is an increasing number of wine stores that specialize in more natural wines such as organic, biodynamic and natural wines. Another way to navigate the world of vegan wines is to look for wines imported by companies that specialize in more natural wines. As I browsed various online wine stores I kept hoping that I would come across a search category for vegan or vegetarian wines.
Not being vegan myself, I have previously been unaware of the difficulty in telling whether a wine is vegan-friendly or not.
White Vegan Wines• 2009 Bonny Doon Ca' del Solo Albarino, Central Coast, $16 – Fined lightly with bentonite – vegan friendly. Red Vegan Wines• 2009 Stellar Organics Cabernet Sauvignon, Western Cape, $12 – This wine even says ‘vegan friendly’ on the back label – Fair Trade accredited and organic.
Mary Gorman-McAdams, DWS, is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant. Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW (Master of Wine), is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant. JOIN THE FLOCK!Get exclusive content, special features, giveaways, limited edition products and much more.
Recently, we had the pleasure of speaking with Beth-ann all about what makes wine vegan (or not vegan), and  some advice for anyone interested in starting up a vegan business. Beth-ann Roth: It usually comes as a big surprise to people when they learn that most wines are not vegan.
Specifically, wine production can yield particulate matter that the winemaker wants to strip out. Interestingly enough, we have found that by engaging in dialogue we can also make a difference.

OHH: One thing I really appreciated while looking through your catalog was that the vegan wines were very clearly labeled. OHH: Can you expand a little on how you work with your producers to encourage wine production methods that eliminate the use of animal products?
Episode 321: Miyoko Schinner on Vegan Cheese, Plus Tips on Self-Care from Alessandra Seiter! Whether your preference is for red wine, white wine, rose’, sparkling wine, icewine or champagne, there are now vegan options available across the board. There was a moment of being bummed out, but then the epiphany came along that this is a wondrous opportunity to try out a slew of NEW wines that I know for a fact are cruelty-free. All young wines are hazy and contain tiny molecules such as proteins, tartrates, tannins and phenolics. However, traditionally producers have used a variety of aids called ‘fining agents’ to help the process along. Today many winemakers use clay-based fining agents such as bentonite, which are particularly efficient at fining out unwanted proteins. An increasing number of wine producers around the globe are electing not to fine or filter their wines, leaving them to self-clarify and self-stabilize. There has been much lobbying to change the US wine labeling laws to include ingredient listing. Two such stores in New York are Appellation Wines in Manhattan and The Natural Wine Company in Brooklyn, where knowledgeable staff were readily able to suggest many vegan-friendly wines.
She hold the Diploma in Wine & Spirits from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), and is a candidate in the Master of Wine Program. Calypso Organic Selections is an innovative importer and wholesaler of organic wine, beer and spirits from around the globe. What makes wine vegan, and — other side of the same coin — what makes wine not vegan?
Our producers are an “easy” bunch when it comes to the elimination of the use of animal products, because they already have a respect for the environment, and processing is as minimal as possible.
As long as you know that your product is one for which there is a market and that your business model is sound, pursue your goal. Some vineyards may argue that they’re adhering to the traditional brewing methods passed down for centuries, but harming others for the sake of tradition is never OK in my books.
In some cases, a vineyard may produce only a couple of wines that are vegan-friendly while still using animal products in others, and some vineyards are entirely vegan. They are not additives to the wine, as they are precipitated out along with the haze molecules.
According to Jenny Lefcourt of Jenny & Francois Selections, “99% of what we bring in is vegan because the wines are not fined”. According to owner (and vegan entrepreneur) Beth-ann Roth, Calypso promotes education about the health-, earth-, culture- and community-supporting nature of their products, which include biodynamic, low-sulfite, fair-trade, and vegan alternatives.
It turns out that many large-production wineries fine their wines using animal products such as cow-derived gelatin, isinglass (a fish gelatin), and egg whites.

One producer in the southwest of France told me that he was shocked when, in response to my question, he learned that his oenologist used bull’s blood to fine the wine. Sometimes it’s just a matter of dialogue – some winemakers do not realize that the oenologist is using the animal product. One of the biggest hurdles is that there is no set group of outlets into which the product will fit.
In addition to Calypso, I recommend checking out Vegan Wine to find out what wine (and beers) are and are not vegan. I am a vegetarian but I am seeing more and more of a need to go vegan my husband is no thrilled of the ideal but I am really wanting to go vegan. Inniskillin is of the former, as it uses skim milk powder to clarify its whites and icewines, but their reds are 100% free of any animal products.  The Vegan Vine is one of the latter, creating wines that are made entirely with no animal products whatsoever in any of their wines.
I can’t think of a better time of year to delve into the many vegan wines out there than over the holidays, and am looking forward to raising a glass with friends and family as we celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year. One producer that is a big proponent of ingredient listing is Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard fame, whose wine labels all include a detailed ingredient list. As natural winemaking gains more market traction, I am hopeful that we will see progress in this approach.
They also work closely with their producers to encourage wine production methods that eliminate the use of animal products, along with continued advancements in earth-supporting growing methods and the promotion of sustainable living conditions for farmers and production employees. Those substances are generally filtered out before the wine reaches the consumer, but the fact is that they are made with animal products and people are entitled to know that.
Regardless of the outcome in a particular vintage, we find that the producers are very receptive to the notion and agree to work toward that end. You need to be creative, and also get past the resistance you will face from buyers and other intermediaries who often do not appreciate, until after the fact, how much their customers want what you’ve got. It's amazing what they put in out foods and how animals are treated and the public seems to be so clueless!
With a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Sauvignon Blanc, and a luscious-sounding Red Blend, their offerings are sure to delight any wine enthusiast.
They coagulate around the fining agent, creating fewer but larger particles, which can then be more easily removed.
We have had many an “Aha!” moment from our customers who only later on realized how much their own customers want our products because of what they are. We knew it all along, and it took getting the product in front of their customers using a hook other than that it was organic or vegan.

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