Last week I wrote about the Vegan 100, a list of 100 vegan items that every vegan should try (note: the list was compiled by Hannah Kaminsky, author of My Sweet Vegan). One of the things on the list is an expensive bottle of wine. Neither Jane nor I are crazy about wine, but occasionally we do have a bottle. Unfortunately, as with most alcohol, it's not that easy to know what is truly vegan and what is not when shopping for the spirits of your choice.
What, wine might not be vegan? For those of you who haven't already heard, alcohol is often refined using animal products. Here's the scoop on wine:
While wine is essentially made from grapes, on occasion animal products are used in small amounts in the production process. Wineries might use animal-derived products as finings. To remove proteins, yeasts, and other organic particles which are in suspension during the making of the wine, a fining agent is added to the top of the vat. As it sinks down, the particles adhere to the agent, and are carried out of suspension. None of the fining agent remains in the finished product sold in the bottle, and not all wines are fined. All Kosher wines are vegan.
Examples of animal products used as finings are gelatin, isinglass, chitosan, casein and egg albumen. Bull's blood is also used in some Mediterranean countries but is not allowed in the U.S. or France.
As an alternative to the animal products Bentonite, a natural, inert clay powder, can be used to clarify the wine. There are even some very patient vintners who let the wine's sediments settle naturally. Winemakers are not required to put on their label which clarifier is used, since it is removed from the final product. However, some wine makers will boast on the wine label that their wine is unfiltered, because some wine connoisseurs prefer wine to be unfiltered.
Anyway, we have been invited to a few dinners over the next several weeks. For most of the dinners Jane will be preparing a dish, but one of the hosts has asked us to bring a bottle of wine. Rather than go out to the store and just hope for the best, I thought I'd do a bit of research to see if I could compile a list of vegan wines. No need, the Vegan Wine Guide had done that for me. Their list currently contains 428 wines, and you can even search by country, and/or type (color) wine. So, if you're a strict vegan who likes to drink wine, you might want to visit, this list can definitely make your life a bit easier.