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What makes a wine vegan?

As we’re back to January once again, many are taking up the mantle of a month-long change in their lifestyles – often bearing a catchy nickname ending in ‘-nuary’. The one we’re most invested in this new year is Veganuary, as the number of vegan wines on the market is ever-growing (much to our delight).

But wait! (You ask.) Aren’t all wines vegan? Isn’t it just… fermented grape juice?

Unfortunately not, though that is changing! A few years back, we wrote a post about the history of why not all wines are vegan, but just to recap:

The wine itself is, ‘just grape juice’, but making it involves the addition of other factors. This can include fining agents that clarify, soften and/or stabilise the wine.

Historically, these fining agents came from animal products, at which point the wine lost its vegan credentials.

These include:
- Albumin, a protein found in egg whites
- Casein, a dairy protein
- Isinglass, collagen derived from fishes swim bladders
- Chitosan, a sugar made from crustacean shells
- Gelatin, collagen made from animal parts

 Let’s just say it: Gross.

While none of these proteins, collagens or sugars remain in the final product in your glass, the process doesn’t align with vegan values. Luckily, many contemporary fining agents are vegan friendly. Some examples are bentonite clay, carbon, limestone, kaolin clay, plant casein, vegetable plaques, and silica gel. With so many plant-based alternatives out there, many winemakers are now fining in a way that won’t exclude their vegan/vegetarian customer base.

Our ethos aligns with these choices perfectly, and so the majority of our range ticks the vegan box. For all your Veganuary needs, we have an entire section of our site dedicated to Vegan Wines. But if you're just starting the search for vegan options, we’ve picked out a few as a ‘vegan starter pack’ of sorts.

First up, an old favourite: Tragolargo Monastrell

Tragolargo, from the mountains of Alicante, is our go-to anytime red wine for those on a budget. It’s light enough to sip on its own, but has enough tannin to hold up to a variety of foods. An easy all-rounder for everyday drinking.

For white wine fans: 282 Sauvignon Blanc

A new world Sauvignon that ticks all the boxes: fresh, bright acidity, grassy notes, and some citrus. Organically and Biodynamically farmed in Elgin Ridge, the vineyard is patrolled by ducks for pest control.

If you still need an intro to orange wine: Baglio Antico Bianco, Cataratto

An easy drinking skin contact white wine, with a lovely golden hue. Slightly more rustic notes of apples and pears with their skins on, with a quincey acidity for balance. This is quite a versatile orange wine for skin contact novices and veterans alike.

Fancy some Fizz?: Tour de Gendres Pet Nat

Playful and fresh, this is a great next step for fans of dry Prosecco. A slightly peachy colour in the glass, with a palate of tart orchard fruit flavours, bright acidity and a bone dry finish.

Special occasion bottles: Cascina Tavijn Guercia and Nestarec Forks & Knives White

Both of these vegan options are heavy hitters, with the Guercia being an excellent winter wine and the Forks & Knives being a very food-friendly white option. The red has lovely acidity, crunchy tart berries and great body. Nestarec’s white is soft, with fleshy fruit and loads of flavour and structure.

And there you have it: something vegan for everyone! For our vegan customers both strict and lax, new and old, beginner and expert, we’re wishing you a very happy Veganuary.

Author: Sophia Tupy

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