In one sense, defining a vegan or vegetarian wine is easy. They’re wines made without the use of, respectively, animal or meat products. But herbivores and carnivores alike may not have considered the possibility of animal products appearing in a drink that is, after all, supposed to be fermented grapes. So what on earth is a non-vegan or non-vegetarian wine, you might reasonably ask…
The explanation is simple, if, for vegans and vegetarians, not especially reassuring. Most wine producers use animal-derived products to act as a filter for organic particles that may be detrimental to its flavour, texture, colour or appearance. It may be boiled fish bladders (isinglass) or animal parts (gelatin); it could be blood or bone marrow, egg whites (albumen), milk protein (casein), fish oil or shellfish fibres.
All are longstanding traditions and, looked at in one way, remarkable testaments to human ingenuity ( who first came up with the idea of using bone marrow to clean wine?). But that’s hardly a comfort if your conversion to veganism has been scuppered by an unwitting sip of blood-fined malbec.
Things are getting better for vegan and vegetarian wine-drinkers, however. More winemakers are choosing to use mineral and plant-based fining agents, from bentonite clay and silica gel to plant casein.
Importers and supermarkets have also got better at sourcing, labelling and marketing vegan and vegetarian wines. It’s now possible to find these wines everywhere and we are very pleased to have some fine examples available for you to buy from Ashby Wines!
If you want advice on which ones to try, feel free to ask – just drop us a line at [email protected] or message us on social media.