What Makes A Wine Vegan and Why Aren’t All Wines Vegan Friendly?

An interesting question that we are asked time and time again here at VeggieVision TV so we chatted to John Critchley the Commercial Director of wine importer Morgenrot, who specialise in vegan wines, to find out more.

So John, what makes a wine vegan and why aren’t all wines vegan? 

In simple terms, vegan wines are wines made without the use of animal or meat products. How are animal products used in wine I hear you ask?  Well, many winemakers will use animal-derived products to act as a filter to get rid of particles that may affect the flavour or appearance of wine. 

What animal products are used in non-vegan wines?  

It always sounds pretty disgusting and so far removed from how you would envisage a natural product like wine being made but all types of animal derived products are used for filtering such as boiled fish bladders (isinglass), animal bones, egg whites, milk protein or even shellfish fibres.  This doesn’t mean the final wine contains these filtering agents as they are filtered out but animal products are used in the process. 

What do vegan wines use instead and does this effect the quality?

It’s really not that difficult anymore as there are now plenty of different mineral and plant-based ingredients which can be used as fining or filtering agents.  Products such as bentonite clay, pea protein, plant casein and silica gel are just a few products which are increasingly being used to produce vegan wines of outstanding quality.  When sourcing new wine producers, we always now request that wines are vegan.  If they are not, we want to know why and ask them to change.

How many of your wines are now vegan? 

We’ve been working closely with our wine producers over the last 5 years to help those which were not vegan, make the switch.  The UK’s vegan scene is a lot more mature than other countries so we’re proud to have been leading this drive for vegan wines.  We’re delighted to say that 95% of our portfolio of over 400 wines are now vegan and demand continues to grow.   

How can consumers find out if the wines they are drinking are vegan?  

While vegan wine ranges have definitely been on the increase, I believe more can be done to educate consumers on them and make it easier for them to be found.  As there is no ‘official’ vegan stamp for wine labelling we recommend that our suppliers get the V-Label certification, which is an internationally recognised, registered symbol for labelling vegan and vegetarian products.  It’s a simple and reliable guide that can help winemakers promote transparency and clarity. Our wines are predominantly sold in restaurants, which makes it a bit easier as waiters and bar staff can help with recommendations but when in retail or shopping online, it’s vital that retailers make it easy for customers to discover what’s vegan and what’s not.  

And to finish, what vegan wine would you recommend? 

The White – Gavi Poderi Della Collinetta

The Sarotto family trace their history back to the end of the 18th century and from the 1800’s began making wine from their own vineyards.  Poderi della Collinetta are wines made with the great passion of a famous winemaker, Roberto Sarotto. One of Italy’s most revered and fashionable white wines, this Gavi offers a bouquet of floral overtones and captivating hints of pineapple, apricot and peach.  On the palate it is pleasingly fresh with marked apple characteristics.

Ooooo sounds super. Thanks so much for sharing your expertise John!

For more fabulous vegan wines visit www.morgenrot.co.uk