What is vegan wine?

The Economist and Forbes have both declared 2019 the year of the vegan, pointing to a soaring trend in plant-based lifestyles. In Canada alone, 6.4 million Canadians follow a diet that restricts meat, according to recent findings from Dalhousie University. And those numbers are expected to grow. Wine is made from grapes and yeast. So it’s vegan, right? The answer, surprisingly, is not necessarily.

Why not all wines are vegan (or even vegetarian)

Most often, the wine gets “glued, filtered and stabilized” after its passage in the tank; it gets freed from all impurities to reduce the formation of tannin deposits, in other words, eliminate the yeast residues and particles suspended in the wine. Furthermore, the wine gets cleared and stabilized for transportation. In the wine growing universe, this process is called “clarification”. The traditional way of “protein binding” includes the usage of animal products, like albumin or fish glue. So egg whites or milk protein is often used to clarify and stabilize wine before bottling. But gelatin, isinglass (fish bladders) or chitin (crustacean shells) can be used too.

Does Vegan wine exists?

Vegan wines are uncommon, but they do exist. Wherever winemakers are practicing minimalist intervention in the cellar, is where you’ll most likely find wines that are unfined and unfiltered. Remember to check with the winery or importer to be sure.

Here are some useful tips on vegan wines:

  • Wines that are unfined and unfiltered are vegan
  • Wines filtered only with sterile filters (ceramic filters) or cross-flow filters are vegan. Be sure to check with the producer
  • Several mass-produced wineries use sterile filters instead of animal products
  • Some wineries use bentonite to fine protein from white wines instead of isinglass
  • Biodynamic wines can be made in a vegan way when they are unfined but since the farming process uses animal bones it negates this.
  • Organic wine isn’t always vegan

The vegan labelled wines to try from Southern Rhône

Les Coteaux Côtes du Rhône Villages by Domaine Boutinot 2015

There’s something very special about the southern Rhône: beautiful but tough, craggy yet easy on the eye, it has a “texture” you can practically inhale. This place just oozes history and culture, with traditions carved out over centuries.

Boutinot’s love affair with this region began in the early 1980s, when they first began making wine in the southern Rhône. From the climate, the grapes, and the terroir, to the people and the cuisine – there’s no doubt that the southern Rhône has it all.

Their dream is to create wines with world-wide recognition; wines which are fairly priced and wines above all, that are made to be enjoyed now.

Immediately impressive, this wine reveals its class from the start. Brambly fruit underpinned by subtle oaky nuances, lovely sweet spice; warm star anise with a touch of cinnamon. This classic Côtes du Rhône Villages is enriched with specially-selected parcels from the cru vineyards of Séguret, Sablet and Cairanne.

Where to find these wines?
→ Les Coteaux Côtes du Rhône Villages by Domaine Boutinot 2015 :

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