The vegan diet is growing in popularity with over 600,000 people now estimated to be vegan in the UK and many more world wide. Finding the ropes of what you can and can’t eat or drink on your new diet can be tricky, but when it comes to whether red wine is vegan, we have all of the answers in this latest blog.
Let’s cut to the chase… Is red wine vegan?
To the new vegan, it may come as a surprise, shock and perhaps disappointment to learn that not all red wine is vegan friendly. As wine is essentially made from fermenting and pressing grapes, you would be forgiven for assuming that it must surely be suitable for vegans. However, although red wine itself is completely fruit based, the production techniques used in the winery can vary and can in some cases cause the end product to be unsuitable for vegans.
It is the methods used during the part of the wine production process called ‘fining’ that dictate whether the wine will be suitable for vegans. All young wines are cloudy and contain many different natural and harmless molecules such as tartrates, tannins, phenolics and proteins. Fining is the process used to remove this protein, yeast, cloudiness, “off” flavors and undesirable colorings.
All wine will eventually ‘self-fine’ and stabilize if left long enough - however, as us wine fanatics like our wine to be clear and supply needs to meet the ever high levels of demand, many wine producers use ‘fining agents’ to speed the process up.
What makes fining agents non-vegan?
This is where the difficulty lies for those wanting a vegan red wine, as most of the fining agents that have traditionally been used contain animal products. For red wine in particular, this is most often egg whites, known as ‘albumin’. Other fining agents that can be used include casein (milk protein), isinglass (fish bladder protein), fish oil and gelatin among others.
Once the fining process has finished, the agents are removed from the finished product. However, due to the nature of wine, tiny traces of the fining agent may be absorbed during the fining process, thus meaning wine made in this way is off limits to vegans.
How is vegan friendly red wine made?
Thankfully, due to the increasing demand for vegan wines, as well as many people preferring more organic products, a large number of winemakers internationally are adopting more natural methods. One way this is done is by allowing nature to take its course and giving the wine the time to self-fine and stabilize, eradicating the need to add animal products to the process.
Alternatively, some winemakers are opting to use animal-friendly fining agents. For example, clay-based fining methods are commonly used and have proven to be particularly effective in fining the wine. Other examples of fining agents suitable for a vegan diet include carbon, limestone, vegetable plaques and plant casein.
How to spot a vegan friendly red wine
Unfortunately, it is not always as straightforward as you would hope to identify whether a wine is suitable for vegans. This is because the animal products used during fining are processing agents rather than additives, and so are not always clearly listed on the label.
One safe way to guarantee the wine you are choosing is vegan friendly is to pick a wine that says it is unfined/unfiltered, as this means it will have been left to self-stabilize without the use of a fining agent. You could also try doing a quick internet search of the wine brand, as most good brands will state on their website whether the fining process they use contains animal products. Or, to make life easy for yourself, you could visit the DrinkWell website, where we have a number of clearly-marked vegan friendly red wines.
DrinkWell Vegan Red Wines
DrinkWell is proud to be able to offer a number of vegan red wines that are also lower in calories than standard red wine. Every bottle that we sell has been taste tested by our experts to ensure that as well as offering a lower calorie vegan option, they also taste amazing! Some examples of the vegan red wines we currently have available include:
This award winning vegan-friendly Spanish red wine has a complex palate, with juicy bramble fruit, savoury characters and a hint of black pepper. After fermentation, the wine spends 3 months in American oak (once-used, which has only ever held organic wine) before bottling. One 125ml glass contains just 95 calories, and goes perfectly with vegetarian sausage and lentil casseroles.
DrinkWell is excited to welcome this new arrival, available to purchase for £13.99 on the website. This vegan friendly 13% ABV wine provides 94 calories per 125ml glass, and offers juicy black fruit flavours and balanced acidity, together with soft tannins and a delicate finish.
Our current lowest calorie red wine offering (75 calories per 125ml glass), this vegan Italian Red wine contains an amazing 0g Sugar, 0g Carbs and 0g Fats. This wine is a blend of Merlot and Barbera - a ruby beauty full of ripe red fruit, a light easy drinking red wine, made from fresh and cool weather picked grapes. It’s available for just £10.99 per bottle on the DrinkWell website.Browse All Vegan Wines