Vegan wine means that the wine is processed without the use of any animal-derived ingredients or fining agents. In the winemaking process, fining agents are used to clarify the wine by removing unwanted particles such as proteins, tannins, and phenolics (organic compound). Traditionally, some fining agents are made from animal products, which can make the wine unsuitable for those following a vegan lifestyle.
Common animal-derived fining agents that have been used in winemaking include:
- Gelatin: Derived from animal collagen, usually sourced from pigs or cows.
- Casein: A milk protein.
- Egg whites: Used to remove tannins in red wines and clarify the wine.
- Isinglass: Obtained from fish bladders, mainly used for clarifying cask-aged ales but sometimes used in winemaking as well.
To make a wine vegan-friendly, winemakers can choose alternative fining agents that are plant-based or mineral-based, such as bentonite clay, activated charcoal, silica gel, or pea protein. These alternatives effectively achieve the same clarifying purpose without the use of animal products.