Many people are surprised to find out that not all wines are vegan wines. The assumption is that wine is made from grapes, so all wine should be vegan. However, the process of making wine is more complicated than simply letting grape juice ferment. In some cases, animal products are used during the creation of wine and although these are not listed on the label, wines that use these are not vegan-friendly. At Wilhelm Family Vineyards, all of our wines are vegan.
More information about vegan wines:
How Animal Products Are Sometimes Used To Make Wine
Wine is made by fermenting crushed grapes and juice. Yeasts convert the sugars in this mixture into alcohol and various other compounds are created. A combination of complex chemical reactions and processes results in the final product. Up until this point, all wines are vegan.
During fermentation, any wine will naturally become hazy because it contains tiny molecules including proteins, tannins, tartrates, and phenolics. These are naturally occurring and perfectly fine to drink, but because they affect the appearance of the wine, they are usually removed. This process is known as fining.
Given enough time, most wines will self-fine as the particles that cause the haziness naturally sink to the bottom. However, there are times that there is a demand to produce wine more quickly. Because of this, fining cannot occur on its own. In these cases, fining agents may be added. These bind to unwanted particles and make them easier to filter out. The fining agent is removed at the same time, so it does not appear in the final beverage and will typically not be included in the ingredients list. However, traces may be present, which is why vegans typically avoid wines that use animal products at any point during production.
Some of the most common non-vegan fining agents include:
- Casein (milk protein)
- Albumin (egg whites)
- Isinglass (a protein from fish bladders)
- Gelatin (animal protein)
At Wilhelm Family Vineyards, we do not use any of these fining agents during wine production. Depending on the varietal, our wines either self-fine or we use a vegan, clay-based fining agent when necessary.