Sorry, Not All Wines Are Vegan

Posted: Sep 04, 2018

Judging by the looks of the selections at your local grocery store, it might seem like the vegans are taking over with their nut cheeses and cashew butters. Yet animal products lurk in unexpected places, making it difficult to always know what in your shopping cart is actually vegan. There’s white sugar, ground down by bone char, or a marshmallow made stretchy with gelatin. Maybe that soy cheese contains casein, a protein found in dairy milk. Isinglass—a.k.a. fish bladder—was once used to filter Guinness. The wine world remains one of the trickier terrains for vegans and vegetarians to navigate. While the natural stuff is always vegan, the Sauvignon Blanc, rosé, and Malbecs you’re more likely to find at your corner liquor store don’t always come with that guarantee.

Wine has no laws in the U.S. around labeling its ingredients, and animal byproducts come into the process more than one might care to consider when shopping for a bottle. Gelatin, egg white, and casein (a milk protein) are all used as fining agents at the end of the winemaking chain to reduce tannins, which can make a wine astringent. Isinglass, the same kinds of fish bladders that used to make Guinness a no-go for vegans, is used in white wines to remove particulate matter and make them extremely clear.

While this is all cause for vegan concern, “it’s very unlikely that these proteins would actually remain in the wine to any significant degree after you’ve added them,” says Jim Harbertson, associate professor of oenology at Washington State University.

By Alicia Kennedy 
August 31, 2018

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