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Summary: Is wine vegan?

Wine is actually not vegan in many cases. This is due to the fact that during the manufacturing process animal products are used. To clarify a wine, winemakers may use, for example, gelatin, egg whites, or the swim bladder of a catfish.

Since these clarifiers serve as technical aids, they are not indicated on the list of ingredients of the wines. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to vegan labels and seals. These guarantee that the wine is free of any animal substances.

 Instead of animal clarifiers, vegan wine is clarified with mineral clay or vegetable protein. You can find vegan wine in many supermarkets and online.


When it comes to the vegan diet, most people think of giving up meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, and honey. But what about drinks? More and more beverages contain animal products that we do not recognize at first glance. Wine, sparkling wine, and sodas can contain animal products without them being explicitly advertised on the labels. In fact, there are now many vegan wines, and they are labeled as such. But what can’t be vegan about wine? In this article, we’ll get to the bottom of that question and explain what to search for when buying vegan wine next time you’re in the mood for a glass of something delicious! 

What can't be vegan about wine?

Many people automatically consider beverages such as wine, sparkling wine, and the like, to be vegan because there are obviously no animal ingredients to be recognized. Since wine is made from grapes, no one thinks about possible animal products. Unlike, for example, cocoa, cream liqueurs, or egg liqueur, where milk clearly takes up a large proportion. But even a fruity wine that appears plant-based at first glance can contain animal products. However, these are not listed in the ingredient information.

The difference between vegan and non-vegan wine lies in the production. Winegrowers use animal clarifiers to remove turbidity from wines. The clarification is the reason why vegans should be careful when buying wine. In principle, there are no animal ingredients in the product itself, but the wine comes into contact with them during the production process. For most vegans, this is also an absolute no-go.

What is clarification?

The so-called clarification (also called fining) refers to the process that makes cloudy wine clear. In order for the wine to look as beautiful as we know it, egg whites are typically used for clarification. This binds the proteins contained in the turbidity. After successful clarification, the proteins settle to the bottom and the clear wine is peeled off from above.

Instead of egg whites, many traditional wineries use gelatin from pork rinds or from the cartilage, bones, and tendons of beef. The isinglass, a kind of gelatin, from the dried swim bladder of sturgeons or catfish is also often used. A swim bladder is an air-filled hollow organ in the body of the fish. Thanks to this, the fish can adapt to different water depths, among other things. However, wine that has been filtered with the help of the isinglass does not taste like fish.

Taste-altering aids

There are also fining agents that change the taste of the wine: If grapes are subjected to heavy mechanical stress during processing or harvesting, tannins (phenols) are produced that make the red wine taste bitter. Then protein-based products are also used to bind the tannins. Even a slight vinegar flavor disappears in this way.

Why are animal clarifiers not labeled?

Animal clarifiers are considered merely technical aids and not ingredients. Since they are removed after production, there is no need to declare them on the wine label. So here’s the problem: We can’t tell directly whether animal clarifiers were used in the production.

How is vegan wine made?

Fortunately, there are now vegan wines that do not require animal clarifiers. In contrast to conventional wine, herbal remedies are used for clarification and filtering. Mineral clay such as bentonite, for example, is a popular herbal aid. With the help of activated charcoal , unpleasant odors and tastes, as well as discoloration, can be prevented. Vegetable protein from peas, beans and potatoes also clarifies wine.

Will vegan wine remain the exception?

When you look at the wine rack in the supermarket, you quickly realize that very few wines are really labeled as vegan. But there is hope! Today, more and more winegrowers are abandoning animal clarifiers because they are too expensive and the demand for plant-based alternatives is increasing. It can therefore be assumed that animal clarifiers will gradually disappear from wine production and that we can look forward to more vegan wine.

How to recognize vegan wine

You can now get vegan wines in almost every supermarket. Look for a vegan label or on an explicit inscription on the back of the bottle. Alternatively, you can also ask the manufacturers by email whether a wine from the range is vegan. Our tip: On the website of Barnivore.com you will find list of vegan wines available all over the world.

Isn’t that fantastic?

Wine can also clarify itself in a completely natural way – and all by itself. If it can mature for a long time (about three to six months, depending on the quality requirements), the wine clarifies itself. This process is called sedimentation. Nowadays, however, the demand is so high that winegrowers often cannot afford such a long maturation period. That is why they resort to artificial clarification with animal or plant aids.

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