You might think that a wine bottle label holds all the information you need: it’s a Cabernet, it says “natural” under that, and the cute picture of a duck sells it for you. But wait, not every wine with a “natural” advertisement is going to live up to your plant-based lifestyle. In fact, the way wine is often processed isn’t even vegan friendly.
One of the processes to make wine uses additives called fining agents. These clarify the wine and remove substances that make the liquid cloudy. The problem is these agents are often animal-based proteins, which can include casein, gelatin, or even egg whites! And even though they’re filtered out before being corked, the residual leftover of the matter isn’t solely plant-based. The thing is, they aren’t chemicals, and therefore, the misleading title of “natural” can be applied to the bottle.
Because winemakers aren’t legally obliged to put their ingredients on a label, you’ll need to do your research before you hit the stores. It might seem a bit overwhelming, especially because most people think the only ingredient in wine is grapes. Don’t fret. Plantie is here to help you find a refreshing Riesling, a cruelty-free Cabernet, or the most magnificent Moscato with our advice below.
Though they might not have to publicize it in stores, most companies will inform you of their processes on their websites. If they use the phrase “fining” or “clarification” you know it’s probably not okay for your consumption. Nevertheless, some of the ingredients they use would be safe for your lifestyle.
Learn the lingo.
If it’s “unfined,” it’s fine to drink. A bottle labeled “unfined” or “kosher” will not have been through the fining process. However, if it is fined with bentonite, which is basically clay, that will hold up to plant-based standards.
Understand the outcome.
Unfined or unfiltered wine might be a bit cloudy and have residual sediment. Though some people might find this difficult to drink, there are others that claim the depth of taste is better. If you do find you aren’t partial to the sediment, you can always strain your own wine using a coffee filter and some patience.
So if you’re looking for a nice hostess gift or a pairing with your olive and cracker plate, use our tips above to do some research, or check out Plantie’s vegan wine list which has dozens of options. Find your new favorite vino today!