The Vegan Wine Complexity

Published the Jan 14 2020 in "Articles"

You may at first have asked yourself : “Well, isn’t all wine vegan by definition?”. 

To this question, we must answer: no! It is a bit more complex than that and, to be frank, depending on the definition given to ‘vegan’, the majority of wines isn’t! 

But why? Afterall, isn’t wine just made out of grapes? 

The difference between the usual wine and vegan-friendly wine stands in three points: clarification, vine treatment and soil plow. 

  •  How the wine has been clarified. 
  • What is this “clarification” then? 

The clarification is the process that helps removing material -that makes the wine cloudy-, while still in the cellar.  

This process is the main reason why all wine isn’t vegan.  

The clarification usually involves the use of animal-based products such as casein, fish glue and yolks.  

Nowadays winemakers are looking into different ways to clarify the wine. 

  • How the vine has been treated. 
  • The “preparation 500” in biodynamic system  

This is another reason why vegans don’t drink non-labelled vegan-friendly wines. 

Why? Because it involves cow’s horns and excrements to make an environmental-friendly fertiliser. 

The process is easy: they take the cow’s horns and use it to put in the exscrements; then they seal the horns with the exscrements and leave it in the soil for about six months, from -November to April. 

The biodynamic system is the eco-friendliest way to treat your vineyard, but as you do have to rely on nature only, you need to breed cows, chicken and sheeps, so this is not vegan friendly.   

You can find more here: Preparation 500 (this article is in French but it explains how all the horns used are from cows that were killed for other reasons), and Preparation 500. 

  • How the soil has been plowed. 

In order to lower the CO2 emissions, some winemakers use horses to plow the ground, instead of heavy machines. This is also an example in which animal exploitation is used with good intentions in mind. 

  • Is “vegan wine” better than “normal” wines? 

First of all, the fact that you are using animals for any of the three points explained earlier has no influence on either the taste or the aromas of the wines. However, most of the winemakers that tend to follow a strict vegan policy until reaching the labellisation usually do care about their vines and vinifications process, so in average, vegan wines happen to be better, even if this has no direct consequence. 

  • The vegan labelling 

To receive the stamp of vegan labelling, you have to go even further than your own practices, you have to go through all your sourcing process, including the glue used to stick the labels on your bottles, the ink used to print your cardboards as there might be some traces of albumin coming from pork blood. There are different associations and (controlling) organisations – such as the vegan society , Eve, PLAMIL Food Vegan Label,… – that can give you the stamp you need, but they will increase the taxes you’re paying if you start producing more since the subscription to the label is partly calculated also on the surface of the vineyard. The fact that a wine has the label on it makes sure that it is 100% vegan-friendly, otherwise, anyone could cheat. 

  • Which of our wines are vegan labellised?                        

Four of our winemakers are applying for the label and we selected the eight following wines: Château Dalmeran Bastide and Red; Domaine du Petit Clocher Rosé and White; Domaine Maison Sparkling; Bidoli Pinot Grigio, Friulano and Cabernet.  

  • Fun fact  

Many vegan wines do not advertise wine pairing with “vegan” food, but with meat/cheeses/fish… 

For example, look at this: Rhone Valley , Pinot Grigio . 

  • Legit pairings for vegans 

Light meals are best with a white wine, asian dishes with Riesling, spicy foods with Pinot Grigio and raw dishes with rosés. Italian reds go well with vegan pizzas or pasta while a full-bodied red wine from Bordeaux can be paired with richer dishes, such as chilli or mushroom stroganoff. 

Still, it is fun to experiment! And let us know if you find some new, exciting pairings! 

We suggest this site, as it has many pairing ideas and descriptions that will surely meet anyone’s needs.  

  • Our position 

We decided to focus on the environment first as we discovered that 80% of organic wines were treated with copper (this is not chemical products although highly polluting and toxic for the soil and underground water), we chose to go one step further and select producers that are not using copper in the vine treatment. 

Wsolely have very respectful winemakers, only few use eggs yolks to clarify and some are in biodynamic system therefore have a few cows, and some do use horses instead of machines to reduce their CO2 impact, so we took the position not to have only vegan wines, but also more CO2 efficient wines that cannot be vegan. 

We truly sympathize with our vegan friends and we would always follow the path of preservation of the environment aside of the respect of animals. That said, wine is all about sharing, so we invite you to discuss it around a glass of vegan wine.