Are all Organic & Biodynamic Wines Vegan?
Some may believe that all Organic or Biodynamic Wines are Vegan-friendly or vegetarian however this may not exactly be the case. As a category they are but there is no guarantee. If or how a wine is clarified determines whether it is vegan.
Why are Some Wines Not Vegan-friendly?
All young wines are hazy due to proteins, tartrates, tannins and phenolic molecules that are suspended in solution. These are natural bi-products of fermentation and are not harmful. But consumers like their wines to be bright and clear. A wine does not have to be clarified to become clear, given enough time these bi-products will naturally precipitate out and settle at the bottom of the tank or barrel. Wines are clarified to speed this process up. What might otherwise take months can be done in a few hours or days. Fining agents, which are used to clarify wines, act like magnets that cause the unwanted molecules to coagulate and create fewer, larger particles that can then be easily filtered out.
What to look for to know if your wine is vegan-friendly?
Historically, the most used fining agents included:
blood and bone marrow
casein (milk protein)
chitin (fiber from crustacean shells)
egg albumen (derived from egg whites)
gelatin (protein from boiling animal parts)
and isinglass (gelatin from fish bladder membranes).
During the fining process, the wine will absorb tiny quantities of these fining agents thereby making them non-vegan. But there are now filtering technologies available that clarify wine without the use of these animal bi-products.
However a wine is clarified and filtered, flavour compounds will be stripped out and to purists, this is not what they want. A major reason why winegrowers adopt an organic, biodynamic or more natural approach is to improve the flavour of their wines. So the last thing they want to do is clarify and filter their wines as this will strip out some of the flavours.
Is Champagne Considered Vegan-Friendly?
If a wine has not been clarified or filtered it is automatically vegan. Traditionally animal by-products were used to clarify wine and this would make them non-vegan, but if non-animal based fining products like carbon and clay are used it will be vegan. This also applies to champagne.
Is Cellar Direct a Vegan Wine Club?
Cellar Direct does not focus solely on vegan wines, or would be classified as a vegan wine club, however, most of the wine offers are vegan because they are minimally processed - they undergo no fining or filtering and we usually state as much in our offers. As for looking for a list of "ingredients”, good luck with that; virtually no wines have the ingredients listed on the bottle because there are no laws or regulations that require this. Generally speaking, if a wine producer wants to target the vegan market they will state that they are vegan friendly on the front label.
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Vegan Wines We Love
This wine was aged for two years in old oak barrels and racked every six months using gravity to decant from barrel to barrel to 'clean' the wine naturally without pumping or clarification and allows it to be bottled unfined and unfiltered.
This wine is also aged for four years before being released over which time it clarifies itself. Nothing added & no filtering required.
This is an unfined and unfiltered wine which is only degorged when the permanent cork is inserted. The bottles are aged neck down which is where the sediment collects. Degorging freezes the neck of the bottle and when the crown cap is removed a frozen piece of ice pops out with the sediment. The permenent cork is then inserted into the bottle. Nothing else is done to 'clean' this wine
This wine is aged for four years before being botled over which time the wine clarifies itself. Nothing added & no filtering required.