The answer, surprisingly, is no. Depending on who makes it, animal products can be incorporated throughout the wine making process. These “fining agents” are used to remove protein, yeast, cloudiness, “off” flavors and colorings, and other organic particles.
According to PETA, popular animal-derived fining agents include blood and bone marrow, casein (milk protein), chitin (fiber from crustacean shells), egg albumen (derived from egg whites), fish oil, gelatin (protein from boiling animal parts) and isinglass (gelatin from fish bladder membranes).
For those committed to a diet free from animal products, this puts many wines off limits. But just like many vineyards have committed to organic and biodynamic grape cultivation, there are some who have also committed to eliminating these fining agents from the fermentation process. These wineries use carbon, bentonite clay, limestone, kaolin clay, plant casein, silica gel and vegetable plaques instead, all of which are perfectly acceptable for those who abstain from animal products.
Below are five varieties of wine that are the perfect way to impress your vegan sweetheart. Know of a vegan wine we missed? Share it in the comments!
Girasole Vineyards (pronounced jeer-uh-so-lay) offers a number of wines made from certified organic grapes grown in the Mendocino appellation of Northern California. Try the 2011 Pinot Blanc with “delicate aromas of orange blossom, citrus peel, jasmine flower and spice” or the 2009 Zinfandel with “aromas of raspberry, cherry and black plum, with hints of sweet vanilla and spice.”
The Vegan Vine specializes in animal-free wines made from grapes grown by Clos LaChance Winery, a family-owned operation located in the Northern Central Coast of California. Try the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon with “aromas of bright berry fruits, plums, tobacco and a subtle floral note” or the 2011 Chardonnay that features “bright citruc notes followed by peach cobbler, honey and a subtle grassiness.” If you just can’t decide, you might opt for the Valentine’s Day Gift Pack.
2010 Syrah-Rose La Marouette – Offered by The Organic Wine Company online, this wine is from the Languedoc region in South of France. Made from 100% Syrah grapes this rose has a shimmering pink hue and aromas of berries like strawberry and red currant.
Blanquette de Limoux Brut by Bernard Delmas – Also offered by The Organic Wine Company online, this brand blends Mauzac and Chardonnay grapes into what many consider to be the world’s first sparkling wine. Featuring subtly fruity notes, with toasty green apple and lemon flavors.
Frey Winery – One of the most popular brands of completely vegan, organic and biodynamic wines. Try the 2011 Pinot Noir blended with care from grapes grown on their Redwood and Potter Valley ranches. This Pinot Noir “is fruity and smooth on the palate. Food-friendly and versatile, it is perfect for picnics, romantic dinners, or by the glass.”
Don’t see anything you like? An extensive list of vegan wines, sorted by country of origin and brand name, is available at www.vegans.frommars.org/wine.
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