This is very bad news for me as I try to eat a vegan diet while enjoying a glass of red wine or two!!
Even though wine is made from fermented grapes, wine often undergoes a clarifying process called fining to remove any loose particles such as grape skins and stems, and sediments. Fining is often done with sturgeon (fish bladder), egg white, gelatin or casein (milk protein).
While fining is used to clarify and smooth out a wine; some wine makers believe that fining can remove too much sediment and with it some of the wine’s key flavors and complexities. Additionally, given time, wines will self-clarify and self-smooth, and an ever growing number of wine producers are choosing not to fine or filter their wine. These wines will be labeled “not fines and/or not filtered”.
It is possible to find vegan-friendly wines that use non-animal fining agents such as bentonite and/or activated charcoal. unfortunately there is not labeling requirement so it isn’t always easy to determine if a wine is vegan or not.
I found a website Barnivore that offers a comprehensive list of wines (as well as beers and liquors), and labels them as vegan friendly or not. They also offer a variety of apps for looking up wines on the go. I downloaded vgan on my phone and will be referring to it before I buy a bottle of wine at the store, or order a glass of wine in a restaurant!
After a comprehensive web search I did find a few vegan wineries. Some of these wines can be found in liquor stores, or they are available online. Frey Organic Winery, Hunt County Wines, The Vegan Vine, Girasole Vineyards, And while most of their wines do indeed use animal products, Sterling’s Vintner Collection does not
Another good site is The Vegan Sommelier, The Vegan Sommeliers taste wines from small family owned vineyards, confirm that they are vegan, and offer those that they consider the best on their website.