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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Gouttenoire

Carnivore or vegan wine?!

You would assume that because wine is made from grapes, it would by definition be a vegetarian or even a vegan beverage, right? We've all read wine labels before and noticed that there are no ingredients listed. Apart from "contains sulphites", we suppose that the only ingredient is the fruit, fermented.

Currently, transparent ingredient or nutrition labelling laws do not apply to wine, so we cannot know exactly what method a wine has been made with.

Hence several different independent associations have emerged, for example, to indicate that a wine was made from organically grown fruit, or perhaps even made with minimum manipulation (e.g. natural wine in France). Definitions are popping up in different places around the world and may hold different standards according to the country. They are popular as green lifestyles are becoming more common.

In fact, another certification that you may have noticed on some wines is the vegan certification. I'm supposing any wine lover could be puzzled by this. Isn't wine made from grapes and the only possible addition sulphites, as labels state?

So which are the possible animal-derived products you could find in wine and that vegan certified wines won't be made using:

· eggwhite, casein and gelatin (used for fining a wine, so removal of fine particles that filtration could not remove). Alternatives: bentonite, vegetable proteins (mainly from green peas, potatoes), or simply a longer decantation time.

· beeswax (used to seal bottles in rare occasions)

· milk-derived glues (in agglomerated corks)

As to the actual growing of the grapes, manure could not be used in the fields to fertilize soils. And when it comes to choosing between philosophies (organic or vegan wines), one must be aware that it's possible that organic or biodynamic wine producers employ animals instead of tractors to work the fields. Also, some specific preparations in biodynamic agriculture as P500 (horn manure) are made in a cow horn.

In reality, a lot of wines are vegan, given the above criteria. Of course, you couldn't be certain if you don't know the winery, and hence a certification is needed to communicate it to the consumer who wishes to lead a vegan life.

On a sidenote, it would be absolutely impossible to keep fruit flies out of the cellars during fermentation, so I guess a little fly-juice doesn't count ;)

Here's our video from winery Poggio al Sole which holds an organic wine and vegan certifications:

What about pairing?

There used to be rigid classic rules about pairing white wine with fish and red wine with beef, but this simple recommendation has been successfully challenged as many wines and foods are more complex than that. Yet vegetables remain one of the most challenging food groups to pair wines with. So don't fool yourself to think that any vegan wine might necessarily be a perfect pairing choice for a veggie dinner - you still have to find the right balance for your pairings (and yes, they can be very personal).

Funny enough, you'll see the classic recommendations on some vegan wines suggesting meats & cheeses (see French label hereunder) - I wonder how that might make a vegan feel?!

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