Aren't all wines vegan? Surprisingly not – here's what you need to know and what to look for
Wait a second. Vegan wine, isn’t that a bit like saying vegan cauliflower?
You’d think so, considering grapes don’t have hooves or snouts. But, in fact, plenty of wines can contain traces of animal products that are introduced during the ‘fining’ process – when winemakers add fining agents to clarify and brighten wine.
So what animal products are used in non-vegan wines?
The most commonly used animal products are milk protein (casein), fish protein gelatin (isinglass), and egg white (albumen). While these products are not directly added to wine – and can’t be tasted in the final product – they’re used during the clarification process, meaning there may be traces of them in the wine.
The fining agent is added to wine to bind to unwanted elements, making them easier to filter out. These elements are usually proteins, tartrates (little red or white crystals) and tannins.
Does that mean a wine has to be unfined or unfiltered to be vegan?
No, not necessarily. While plenty of vegan wines are unfined or unfiltered, there are still lots of wines on the market that have been fined using non-animal-derived fining agents, such as bentonite, plant protein or activated charcoal.
Can I tell a vegan wine from an ingredient list?
In New Zealand, wine labels must include an allergen declaration if fish, egg or milk are present – this is why some labels will say “may contain traces of…”. Generally, if you’re after a vegan wine you should look out for “vegan friendly” or official vegan certification. If you’re unsure about a certain bottle, you might like to contact the wine producer to ask.
Liquorland's top picks for vegan wines
Te Whare Ra Sauvignon Blanc
Tasting notes: lime, elderflower and tropical fruits.
Sip with: barbecued asparagus and lemon tart.
Lawson’s Dry Hills Pinot Gris
Tasting notes: citrus, poached pears and ripe apples.
Sip with: pasta dishes or coconut-based curries and sauces.
Akarua Pinot Noir
Tasting notes: dark plums and cherries with a hint of spice.
Sip with: roasted herby mushies.
Yealands Sauvignon Blanc
Tasting notes: passion fruit and fresh herbs.
Sip with: pad Thai or fresh melon salad.
Matawhero Single Vineyard Gisborne Chardonnay
Tasting notes: stonefruit and lightly toasted nuts.
Sip with: zucchini risotto or fruit crumble.
Rockburn Pinot Noir
Tasting notes: berries and tea leaf.
Sip with: dark chocolate torte.