Why Is Wine Not Vegan?


More and more people are opting for a diet - which has led to food and drink manufacturers producing more vegan products.

Once quick stroll though your local supermarket will show you many different vegan options, from vegan burgers to vegan bacon - and of course, vegan wine.

But what exactly makes wine non-vegan? Read on to learn more about vegan wine and why it may not always be vegan.


Non-Vegan Wine

Although wine is created from grapes, this does not automatically imply that it can be considered vegan. Many animal-derived components are used in winemaking procedures, so many winemakers label their wines vegan or vegetarian. Read through the article to know why.

First, some fundamentals of winemaking: Traditionally, creating wine has been a long and drawn-out one. Previously after farming and growing grapes, pressed grape juice must be allowed to settle before fermentation and as fresh wine after fermentation to allow suspended particulates to settle to the bottom of the fermentation tank or barrel.

Within the time that the wine keeps on maturing, which often occurs throughout the winter after harvest, it becomes even more apparent as leftover particles begin to settle to the bottom of the bottle, contributing to sediment formation. Because of the process's organic and slow nature, the wine can clarify itself. A common characteristic of wine produced in this manner is bottled unrefined and unfined, simply because it has been left to go via all-natural processes before being shared.

Modern wine styles, as well as commercial constraints, need a more rapid production procedure. There are methods for doing this that have been refined by science. The slow clarifying process that occurs gradually while ageing in the cellar may be expedited by using a procedure called fining.

Animal products are frequently utilised as "processing aids" during the fining process. They are added to wine to bind and remove undesirable components, subsequently filtered out during ageing or to get wine champagne fortified. Fining agents are not included as an ingredient on the finished product's label to protect consumers' privacy.

Fining may also be employed to rectify winemaking errors such as off-tastes, hues, cloudiness, or too harsh or abrasive tannins. It is also used to stabilise wines that naturally have not had the opportunity to clear themselves over time. Many current wines are made more inexpensive due to this shorter period between grape harvest and a glass of wine.


Non-Vegan Ingredients Used in Making Wine

Numerous different items originating from animals are used to remove extra particles, off-tastes, and excess phenolics (tannins in both red and white wines) from wine, among other things. Here are some frequent instances of how they are employed in the winemaking process.


Egg White

An effective fining agent, egg white has been used for centuries to clear red wines and is still commonly employed in contemporary winemaking. Egg white's high albumen concentration makes it an excellent choice for lowering the astringency of wine by binding and reducing the tannin content. It is thus most suited for extremely tannic wines or wines that have been stored in oak barrels. The danger of over-fining is limited, and colour loss in the wine is negligible when fining and racking are done in a controlled environment.

When adding egg whites, the rate is 5–10 g/hL wine or the white of 1–2 eggs per 100 L; winemakers separate the egg white from the yolk first. It is also possible to use pure, chilled egg whites instead. Salt is also added throughout this procedure to keep the solution from becoming hazy. Winemakers pour the saline egg-white solution straight into the wine and quickly swirl the solution to incorporate it.



Casein is found in milk, and its function is to absorb suspended particles and precipitate them. It is primarily advised to be used to refine white wines, particularly for lowering tannin content in white wines and minimising browning caused by oxidation. Colour stripping may occur if an excessive amount of casein is used, and a second fining with bentonite is required to minimise the clogging of filter pads after fermentation.

The amount of the casein powder that can be added depends on the amount of wine to be refined. According to the manufacturer, winemakers need 100 mL of water to dissolve the powder in a modest amount of water for each gram of casein powder used. They stir the solution throughout the procedure to get the best results. To minimise over-fining and avoid the wine from becoming marred, winemakers utilise the lowest rate of addition possible, increasing if the wine had matured in oak barrels before release.

When making white wine champagne that has been browned due to oxidation, winemakers raise the rate of addition until it reaches the perfect rate possible, depending on the severity of the oxidation issue.



One of the excellent fining agents for wine, especially red wines, is gelatin, produced from animal tissues. Its ability to reduce tannin content makes it a desirable choice. To avoid tannin reduction, it is generally not suggested for fining white wines since it will diminish the tiny quantity of tannins present — and if the tannin concentration of the red wine white is so low, it may not fine sufficiently. Using tannin powder before gelatin fining may help prevent over-fining in white wines.

The amount of wine to be made determines the amount of gelatin that wine enthusiasts use in fining wine. Winemakers utilise the maximum rate when making very tannic wines or wines with a higher concentration than usual. The unflavoured gelatin crystals are soaked in roughly 25 times their weight in warm water to create a gelatin solution. Some gelatin makers may suggest soaking the gelatin in cold water for a few minutes before heating it until it begins to boil.



Isinglass is derived from the swim bladders of sturgeon and other fish. When it comes to fining agents, isinglass is a popular choice among winemakers since it removes colour to a lower amount than other fining agents such as gelatin or casein.

It is most effective when used to clarify white wines, especially those that have matured. In addition, it produces a thicker deposit that tends to adhere to the carboy glass wall, making racking a bit more challenging to do. If the wine is going to be filtered, a second fining with bentonite will help to ease the issue and prevent clogging of the filter pads.



Chitosan is a carbohydrate generated from the shells of crustaceans and is used in food preservation. It has a positive ionic charge and is used to remove excess colour or wine buff and phenols from white wines due to its positive ionic charge.

After knowing that vegan products or elements are used in the wine-making process, will it be safe to say all wine is non-vegan? That will not necessarily be correct. There are some fining agents which are non-vegan too. The label alone may not reveal whether or not a wine is vegan. As a result, if you're unsure, check the website of the wine producer.



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