by Michael dEstries
Categories: Animals, Eats.
Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons

Before you take a swig of that delicious Chardonnay to go along with your yummy Savory Vegetable Pot Pie, ask yourself: was this wine made in part with the swim bladder of a fish?

Yea, I had no idea that most wines are “clarified” or “fined” – a process that, according to Voxy, removes “bitterness or other unwanted components from the young wine, using milk, egg whites or fish products.” As a result, those not interested in making animal products a part of their diet may unknowingly be consuming some of the leftover fining agents.

“Our driving philosophy has always been to let the grapes speak, with as little interference as possible, Daniel Schwarzenbach, owner of Blackenbrook winery in New Zealand told the site. “We are able to produce vegan wine because of the design of the gravity-fed winery and the processes we use.”

“Vegan wines are quite often of a higher standard because they have been produced with a lot of care,” he added. “It’s not the easiest or cheapest way to produce wine but it means we preserve the character of the grapes by treating them as gently and respectfully as we can.”

According to Voxy, demand for vegan wine has surged as more and more consumers become interested in what exactly goes into the drinks and food they enjoy. Unfortunately, wineries are not required to print their fining agents on bottles – so, finding out what exactly is in that wine you’re about to enjoy can involve a bit of investigative work.

Luckily, there are helpful lists online already identifying some brands that consider themselves “vegan”. VegNews has one here, Barnivore breaks down the good and bad, and the Vegan Wine Guide lists over 400.

Are you a vegan wine drinker?

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

View all posts by Michael dEstries →
  • George Wroblewski

    Hi Michael,
    Great article but the Vegan Wine Guide is well out of date (years).Valbona was delisted probaly 8 years ago. We do have a vegan section on our website that is current though.

  • georgina

    I am. I do all my research at Barnivore, but now one of the liquor stores in my town has the picture of a cow next to their vegan wines because according to them the number of people asking for those has increased. It makes the shopping experience much easier.

  • Sonia

    We have a veggie restaurant here in Austin that wasn’t even aware that some wines weren’t vegan and therefore didn’t know if the wines they served were. They also serve Guinness there. Which is sooo not vegan. I was kinda disappointed.

    • herwin

      don’t be disapointed, its not like they are using real meat photos for their veg menu ! LOL !
      Seriously, just inform them, they probably don’t know, give them advice and a list of easily obtainable alternatives !
      Anyway, fish bladders in wine, that scores very low on my why-i-became-vegan list. Doesn’t come close near the horrors of the slaughterhouses.

      • Sonia

        Very true on both the photos and slaughterhouses!
        I schooled em a bit on vegan wines but I don’t think they took my advice, since they still carry the same wines. They have yummy chocolate cake though.

  • Cheryl Durzy

    Wineries are currently not allowed to print details about vegan winemaking processes on the label… The Vegan Vine Wines we have an education necker (something that goes around the neck of each bottle) that discusses the things that make a wine vegan or not vegan. It is amazing how many people are surprised that animal products are often used in wine production!