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Step by Step Guide: How to Know if Wine is Vegan (List)

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Avoiding animal products is easier with a wide variety of vegan-friendly foods, restaurants, and resorts, but what about your favorite wine? Surely all wine is vegan because it is made with grapes. It will surprise you to know that’s untrue, and you need a step-by-step guide on how to know your wine is vegan. 

To know if your wine is vegan, search the label for these identifying symbols – The Kosher certification, the V-Label, which is a green V placed on a yellow background used mainly in Europe, a wine that specifically states unfined on the label, or wine that states it uses bentonite as a fining agent. 

Deciding to change your lifestyle and become vegan is typically done for personal reasons and convictions. Many wine enthusiasts indeed have no idea that wines contain animal-derived products. If you have never been able to differentiate between vegan and non-vegan wines – here are some step-by-step hacks you can use.

How to Know if Wine is Vegan
How to Know if Wine is Vegan

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How to Tell if Wine is Vegan

It is impossible to tell if wine is vegan by just looking at the bottle. Even to assume that it should be vegan purely because it is made with grapes is a risk. Wine producers use fining agents to either clear up wine or enhance certain flavors. The problem is that they are not required by law to declare the type of fining agent they use. 

As long as these agents are natural, biodynamic, or organic, they are allowed to be used, which presents a problem for vegetarians and vegans who prefer certain or no animal products. There are no international guidelines to regulate the use of fining agents. This can make it difficult to verify if a wine is vegan.

The website Barnivore.com is the go-to authority on all vegan wines in the USA. They comprehensively list verified vegan red, rose, and white wines.

Typically in Europe, vegan wines are identifiable by the European Vegetarian union logo, which is a green V placed on a yellow background. This is the only recognizable vegan certification for wine in Europe, although there is no legislation to enforce procedures. 

The only way to tell if wine is vegan is through identifying the classification of the type of fining agent such as bentonite, the V-logo, or by buying from a reputable agency such as Barnivore.com. 

What Makes Wine Vegan

Because veganism is based on a way of living choice and philosophy that excludes as far as practicable any form of animal cruelty, exploitation, and slaughter for clothing and or food, vegans refuse the use of any animal-derived products or substances, and that includes products used when making wine.

Winemakers that understand and respect this philosophy have started adapting their winemaking skills and practices to become more inclusive of the vegan lifestyle. The use of bentonite clay as a fining agent is more widely accepted and is believed to be a far healthier and cruelty-free choice in general. 

As their views and market start changing, winemakers follow a best practice approach to finishing the product, and by using bentonite, their wines become automatically vegan and cruelty-free. Large global retailers understand the responsibility, and some produce their own vegan label wines. 

The list of fining agents that make wine vegan are:

  • Bentonite – This is a type of light clay 
  • Silica – Derived from quartz sand 
  • Carbon – Activated charcoal from coconut or bamboo
  • Limestone – Made from crushing the limestone to a powder
  • Vegetable gelatin – made from processed potato or peas 

TIP: I wrote this great article on how to store wine with a cork that you will certainly learn from. To learn how to store wine without a cork, then this article will be your resource.

What Makes Wine Not Vegan

Non-vegan wine is a wine that uses fining agents that are derived from animal products. Typically these fining agents do not have to be declared on the label or the product sheet that is sent to distributors. The product sheets contain all the relevant information, such as ingredient lists and nutritional values.

The fining process is not a familiar winemaking process to the general public. Fining means an additive is added to the wine used to remove organic particles in unaged wines and protein and yeast molecules. The purpose of the fining agents is to clear up the wine and alter the taste profile. 

Fining agents help to drag impure particles to the bottom of the tank or barrel. This added sediment will be removed before bottling. These fining agents are the deciding factor that either makes a wine vegan or not. 

The list of fining agents that make wine not vegan is:

  • Gelatin – This is collagen from processed animal body parts
  • Casein – This is a milk-based fining agent
  • Albumen – Egg white separated from the yolk
  • Isinglass – Made from dried fish bladders 
  • Arthropods – Invertebrate animals 
  • Chitin – Made from crushed crustacean shells 

Wines that use beeswax seals are also disqualified from being certified vegan even if the wine is made in a biodynamic setting. Strict vegan rules also disqualify any labels attached with animal-derived glue, and these rules extend to the farming practices themselves.

Animal-based fertilizers used on the vineyard will be considered an exclusion as well the use of animals for harvesting purposes such as horses pulling carts. 

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What Wines Are Vegan

What Wines Are Vegan
What Wines Are Vegan

Wines are typically harvested on a biodynamic farm using the least invasive farming methods and no fining agents derived from animal or insect origin. 

These wines have been certified vegan and can be bought with a peace of mind:

Australia 

  • Mino & Co – A Grower’s Touch – Cabernet Sauvignon 
  • Mino & Co – A Grower’s Touch  – Durif

The USA 

  • A Gust Of Sun – All wines except the 2010 Niagara
  • A Tribute To Grace Winery – All wines 
  • Abacela Winery – All wines 

Spain 

  • Compañia de Vinos del Atlantico – A Portela Mencía
  • Aalto Bodegas y Viñedos – All wines 

Portugal 

  • A & D Wines – Casa Do Arrabalde
  • A & D Wines – Liv Rosé
  • A & D Wines – Liv
  • A & D Wines – Monólogo Arinto P24
  • A & D Wines – Chardonnay P706
  • A & D Wines – Monólogo Malvasia Fina P70

England 

  • Marks & Spencer Plc – Abel Charlot Brut NV

South Africa

  • Abingdon Vineyards – All Abingdon Wines 
  • AA Badenhorst Family Wines – All wines 

France 

  • Castelbarry – A Tete Reposee

Brazil 

  • Abreu Garcia – All Wines

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Is Barefoot Wine Vegan?

Barefoot wines may sound like its completely natural and made by crushing grapes by foot but not all of their wines are, in fact, vegan friendly. They use fining agents made from animal gelatin and other animal-derived products.

According to the Barnivore.com website, non of the Barefoot wines available has been certified vegan. 

Conclusion

Although every effort is made to produce wines that conform to the anti-animal cruelty philosophy of a vegan lifestyle, there are definitions that can cast the net very wide. Wines that are certified vegan and are produced as practical as possible using biodynamic methods should be considered the benchmark.

Using horses for plowing or pulling carts and using cow manure will not disqualify otherwise vegan certified wines. Kosher wines are to be considered vegan automatically as no animal products are allowed in the wine. 

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