I think I was vegan for a couple of years before I had even heard the of term vegan wine. Wasn’t wine just fermented grapes and yeast? Oh, yeast. Wait, yeast is non-sentient and is not derived from animal ingredients … so what’s the problem?
After a little research, I learned that most wine goes through a clarifying process called “fining.” Fining removes any murkiness or particles from the wine, so it’s basically a way to strain those foggy bits out, leaving behind a product that’s pretty and clear for drinking.
What makes the wine not vegan is what these fining agents are made of. Most contain things like casein, egg whites, gelatin, blood or bone marrow, chitin and isinglass—which are all animal byproducts that vegans avoid. But there are other methods used to clarify wine that don’t require animal-based fining agents, which makes the wine vegan.
Some of these agents are vegetable-, clay- or charcoal-based and some methods used to clarify wine involve simply allowing it to stabilize on it’s own. (Fining just speeds up that process.) But most wines don’t indicate what fining agents or methods used to produce it, so choosing a vegan wine by the label alone is next to impossible.
Thankfully, sites like Barnivore have done the work for us, making it easy to learn about and select vegan wines on the market. But some wine companies have taken it a step further by presenting exclusive vegan wine selections, which translates into convenient and one-stop shopping for customers.
Vintners’ Alliance is one of those companies, offering a curated assortment of vegan wines that are exceptional in quality and flavor. So when VA kindly shared a few bottles from their vegan collection with me, I eagerly rolled up my sleeves, pulled out a fancy glass and started tasting some of their wines. All three were excellent: smooth, crisp, refreshing! The three varieties I tried were:
Girasole Vineyards Pinot Blanc (2011) Delicate aromas of orange blossom, citrus peel, jasmine flower and spice. Like all Girasole wines, this wine was made with organically grown grapes and is vegan friendly*.
Paul Dolan Zinfandel (2010) A perfect marriage of jammy berry, pepper, and orange marmalade. Paul Dolan wines are made with organically grown grapes. This wine is also vegan friendly*.
d’Arenberg The Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon (2006) There is a sense of discovery with each taste that drives you back and will make this wine an interesting prospect over the next 20 years. This wine is vegan friendly*.
Visit Vintners’ Alliance’s Vegan Wine page for more information, to view their selections and ordering information.