Recently Mat and I found out that animal derviatives and products were used to make wine. This made us incredibly sad. (Cue the violin) Seriously? How can this be you ask? I asked this as well and went hunting for some answers.
Exhibit A: Wikipedia
“Wineries might use animal-derived products as finings. To remove proteins, yeasts, and other organic particles which are in suspension during the making of the wine, a fining agent is added to the top of the vat. As it sinks down, the particles adhere to the agent, and are carried out of suspension. None of the fining agent remains in the finished product sold in the bottle, and not all wines are fined. Kosher wines use isinglass derived from fish bladders, though not from the sturgeon, since this fish is not considered kosher.
Examples of animal products used as finings are gelatin, isinglass, chitosan, casein and egg albumen. Bull’s blood is also used in some Mediterranean countries but is not allowed in the U.S. or Europe.
Of these, casein and albumen (deriving from milk protein and egg white respectively) would be acceptable for vegetarians, but not for vegans.
As an alternative to animal products, Bentonite, a clay mineral, can be used to clarify the wine. Some vintners also let the wine’s sediments settle naturally, a time-consuming process. Winemakers are not required to put on their label which clarifier is used, since it is removed from the final product. However, some wine makers will boast on the wine label that their wine is unfiltered, because some wine connoisseurs prefer wine to be unfiltered.”
Thank you for contacting us about our Beringer wines. After checking with our winemaking team, I have learned that on a very limited number of our red wines we might add casein (from milk) and albumen (egg whites). Both of these are proteins and are used as fining agents to remove tannins and reduce astringency. These are removed as precipitates and it is doubtful any traces of these proteins remain after the fining operation. It depends from year to year which red wines may be put through this process, so I can’t tell you specifically which wines might be affected. On the other hand, our white and blush wines, such as Chardonnay and White Zinfandel are not fined at all. They may go through a filtering agent such as cellulose pads or diatomaceous earth. In membrane filtration the wine is passed through a thin film of plastic polymer material having uniformly sized holes. In both cases nothing is added to the wine.
Ah, sounds semi-good, but then we get company email 2:
Thank you for contacting Beringer. We do not recommend any of our wine for vegans due to the possibility that the wine has been clarified with fining agents such as egg albumin, casein, gelatin and isinglass. The winemakers decide on which fining agents are used and these may vary from product to product and even batch to batch (usually depending on the grapes of that particular year). It is important to note that despite fining agents being used during the winemaking process, they are removed prior to bottling. We appreciate your interest in our wines!
Email 3 (April 09)
“Thank you for contacting us about our Beringer Stone Cellars wines. We do not recommend any of our wine for vegans due to the possibility that the wine has been clarified with fining agents such as egg albumin, casein, gelatin and isinglass. The winemakers decide on which fining agents are used and these may vary from product to product and even batch to batch (usually depending on the grapes of that particular year).”
Good to get a confirmation from the company, they clearly would know best, but who would have guessed?
So now to find a list of Vegan friendly wines!
Here are helpful links and tips to finding vegan wines:
So, there you have it. Hopefully this weekend will be full of fun times, good food and vegan wine!