What's the story on vegan wine?

In case y'all weren't aware... wine is not vegan.

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I was talking with some friends the other day, who were absolutely shocked to find out that wine isn't always vegan. "But it comes from fruit..." they said. This is a reasonable reaction, but there are a few other factors that might make a wine unsuitable for vegans. 

Case in Point:

Animal products, such as egg whites, gelatin, isinglass and milk proteins, may be used as fining agents to ensure clarity of wine. Unlike food labels, wines labels are not required to list ingredients, making it difficult to find out if it is vegan or not. There's much debate whether this should change, but even so, vegan-friendly ingredients do not necessarily mean vegan-friendly wines. Some vegans do not wish to support the agricultural practices used in many vineyards - such as using animal by-products as fertilizers, or animal bones to make preparations. 

While I'm not vegan, myself, I want vegans to be able to enjoy wine like anyone else. This is not always so simple.... When at a restaurant or winery, employees often meet the question "is this wine vegan?", with blank stares. I can see how this could be incredibly frustrating for a vegan who just wants to enjoy a guilt-free glass of wine. 

How to find that guilt-free wine

However, it's not all bad news; there are some options emerging for vegan consumers. Farming practices aside, wines that are unfined and unfiltered, are vegan friendly and they happen to be pretty trendy right now.

There are also some producers who are getting on the 'transparency band-wagon', and voluntarily listing ingredients used in their wines. These wines, however, are rare.

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If you're looking for wines that also use vegan-friendly agricultural practices, then it may take some research. With smaller vineyards, you may simply be able to reach out and ask about their farming techniques. Most small-producers should not hesitate to disclose such information. Even more conveniently, barnivore.com has an online catalog you can use to look up whether or not your wine, beer and spirits, are vegan. 

Finally, if you really don't want to put in the effort of searching for your wine, a brand new company will do just that, for you. Just a few days ago, the first all-vegan wine club launched. The company is simply and conveniently called 'Vegan Wines' and they do all the work for you. They will send you animal friendly and environmentally conscious wines, from small, independent producers. Along with the wines, you receive stories about each winery, as well as plant-based food pairing suggestions. 

Supporting animal rights, environmental sustainability and small businesses? Wine-not!