Summer is such a lovely time and there’s no better time to drink vegan wine. In particular the rosé variety!

I’m a devout rosé drinker (Yes Way, Rosé!) and recently chatted with Neil Palmer, one of the co-founders of Vintage Roots to learn more about vegan wine. Vintage Roots just celebrated their 30th birthday and I was excited to learn that organic has been at the heart of their ethos from day one, a long time before the term “organic” had even registered on most folks radars. Vintage Roots adopted the practice of labelling their wines as either “vegetarian” or “vegan” not when it started becoming more fashionable or with the onslaught of food allergy regulations. No, they’ve been clearly labelling their wines for around 25 years. In Neil’s view this type of clear labelling goes hand-in-hand with the concept of organic.

I came across the Vintage Roots website a couple of years back on Google. With an easy-to-use vegan wine search tool and a good range of prices, we keep returning to their site.

VeganAge blog on vegan wine

 

What makes a wine non-vegan or non-vegetarian?

Have you heard the term “fining” before? This is where substances are added to wine to remove organic compounds. The substances act as a magnet of sorts helping to clarify the wine and can also change the smell or flavour. They are also used in beer and cider. I had heard of a few before and but following my discussion with Neil I learned of a few more shockers.

  • Egg whites (albumin)

One of the more recent drivers behind labelling egg whites more clearly is that some people have an egg food intolerance. They are most commonly used for clarifying red wine to remove tannins.

  • Milk (casein)

A by-product of milk, casein is used to fine white wines.

  • Blood (yes, blood, yuck!)

I was relieved for all you non-vegans to learn that this was more of a historical practice and the use of dried blood powder is now illegal in the US and Europe. You may still find it in some non-exported wines in other countries, so your chance of coming across it is minimal. But if you’d like to avoid drinking dried blood just look for the vegan label.

  • Isinglass

Obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish this substance is a form of collagen. Whenever I’ve mentioned isinglass to non-vegan friends most of them are just as disgusted at the thought of drinking fish guts as I am!

  • Chitosan

This is from the exoskeletons of crabs, shrimp and other shell fish. Chitosan is popular for fining white wines.

  • Gelatin

A substance we’re a lot more familiar with due to it’s extensive use in things like sweets, jelly and puddings. Gelatin is essentially boiled cartilage, skin and bone. Nice. I find the concept of it quite nauseating and there are a number of great alternatives out there to use instead like Agar Agar. I’ve read about Agar Agar being used to clarify juice but not sure if it can be substituted for wine.

Most wine will self-clarify using gravity if left long enough so fining is only used to speed up the production process. I’m all for getting a lush young rosé vegan wine to the table, but it’s the 21st century, surely we can still achieve this without having to crunch down on an eggshell, suck on a fish bladder or join the ranks of Count Dracula? Okay I’m probably being a tad overdramatic but quite frankly none of these substances fill me with that happy feeling…

Are vegan-friendly clarifying options available?

Wine makers have multiple alternatives available including Bentonite (volcanic clay) which is more commonly used to fine homemade wine and Activated charcoal. Check out the PETA article on the link above to see the full list of alternatives available to produce vegan wine.

Some wine makers are also choosing to simply allow the wine to self-clarify. If you come across one of these the label will say “not fined” or “not filtered”. Personally I’m a big fan of this as it feels like letting nature take it’s course.

Vegan and Vegetarian Wine labelling

Labelling is getting better in the UK but it’s still a little disheartening when you trawl the shelves of your local supermarket only to find at most a couple of options available. We recently spent 15 minutes reading the back of almost every rosé wine on the shelves in Tesco. They were clearly labelled “vegan” or “vegetarian” which I was super excited about…only to find that out of all the options only one was accessible to us. This was quickly followed by a rather grumpy tweet to Tesco!

While retailers move slowly towards better labelling, in the absence of choice, I always end up hunting down vegan wine online. Also most of the time we hit the supermarkets we need to be in and out in 10 minutes and don’t have oodles of time to spend reading the back of every bottle. Vintage Roots is a great option online. They have a vegan category and I love the fact that they also label which wines are screw-tops. Simplicity personified! There’s also something really nice about shopping independently.

Vegan Wine Tasting

We sampled the vegan rosé wines below…all for you dear reader…such a chore 😉

I’m no wine connoisseur so I certainly won’t be telling you about the “nose” on any of these…but I am an A-Class expert in knowing what tastes yummy on a hot summer evening.

  • Albet i Noya Curiosa 2015   £9.95     This had the most gorgeous bubblegum colour and some serious taste. I thought it would be sweet from the colour but it was more on the dry side. The wine producer call themselves “curious people, passionate about the world of organic wines and the earth itself”…they sound like a lovely bunch! Neil also told me the 2015 has been really good in particular.
  • Wild Thing Rose 2015   £7.95    This tasted like a mix of cherries and strawberries, was darker in colour and slightly sweeter. What I love about this one too is it was developed in associated with the Born Free Foundation so a donation from every bottle directly benefits conservation and animal welfare. In a nutshell – Wild thing…you make my heart sing… 

  • Silent Pool Pinot Noir 2015   £16.50     At the top end of the price range was this wine from Albury Organic Vineyard in Surrey. I wanted to try at least one UK vegan wine and this vineyard isn’t that far from us. At this price I definitely sipped more slowly. It had an interesting taste and Neil let me know Albury’s vineyard is well worth a visit. Not sure I’d buy the rosé again by apparently their sparkling wine is superb so I’ll try that next time.
  • Meinklang Pinot Noir Frizzante Rosa Sparkles   £11.99     No summer occasion is special without something that sparkles. To be honest I bought this because it had a really cute picture of a cow on the label, but I thought the price for a great quality sparkling wine was good too.
Meinklang biodynamic vegan rose wine

 

 

Now you have a bit more info at your fingertips I hope you’re inspired inspired to hunt down and try new vegan rosé wines!

 

Simplifying Happy (…if slightly tipsy) Choices 🙂

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About Michelle

Michelle grew up in a culture where it was normal to eat meat at every meal. Watching close family suffer multiple health problems drove her to learn more about eating for health. After watching Food Inc Michelle took the plunge into veganism and hasn’t looked back since. She is now on a mission to bring vegan inspiration to everyone!

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