People have been enjoying wine for thousands of years, tracing all the way back to the bronze age, but don’t think you are sipping the same wine the ancient Greeks were. Wine today is quite different than the kind people drank 7000 years ago. Although both types went through the process of fermentation, our understanding of this process has drastically improved. As a result, wines have gradually started to taste better and even improving with age.
If you have heard of apple wine or rice wine, you know that wine can technically be made out of any fruit, but grape wine does remain the standard. What's important in winemaking is the yeast, which converts sugar to alcohol through the process of fermentation. We can distinguish wine from grape juice because of this fermentation process.
People don’t expect to have any animals products in their wine, after all, it’s suppose to be made from fermented grapes or other fruits.
Animal by-products are added to wine during the fining and filtering stage. This, ultimately, is done to speed up the winemaking process, while still producing a clearer end product that isn’t hazy. Something to note, these fining agents are removed at the end, before the wine is bottled.
Common animal products used in the fining and filtering process includes;
Isinglass (fish bladder)
Albumin (egg whites)
Casein (milk protein)
Alternatively, as vegan wines grow in demand, more and more winemakers are making the switch to using minerals and plant-based fining agents, such as;
When trying to distinguish between whether a bottle of wine is vegan or not, the lack of clear labeling of ingredients and additives can be frustrating. This is because alcohol is commonly exempted from the labeling requirements that other food products are subject to. Luckily, the internet has most name-brand vegan wines cataloged, which can be a helpful resource when sourcing plant-based wines.
You can also visit Barnivore, which is basically an encyclopedia for vegan wines and beers with over 42,000 cataloged.