Vegan friendly wines – how do you know?

Vegan friendly wines – how do you know?

Stopped to pause lately and wonder what makes a vegan friendly wine and where to find them?

If you’re reading this article maybe you are vegan and so what we are about to tell you is not news to you. But for those who are not vegan we might start by explaining what ‘vegan’ actually is.

Someone who is Vegan does not eat or use any animal derived products. The term vegan was termed back in 1944 a combination of the first and last letters of the word vegetarian. Like with every diet choice and as any vegan will tell you, there are different types of vegan but their fundamental ethos of veganism is the same.

Today we are talking wine however and which wines are suitable for vegan consumption.

You might think that all wines are vegan friendly but for the majority this is not the case. While the primary ingredient ‘grapes’ are clearly not an animal derived food the industry commonly does use different fining agents which are animal derived in the winemaking process.

The fining agent acts to settle-out and help remove proteins, yeast and other organic particles which are in the wine. Tiny, tiny traces of these fining agents may remain in the finished, filtered product sold in the bottle.

The most common animal products you will find in this fining process are casein (a milk protein), albumin (egg whites) and gelatin (animal protein). Both casein and albumin are considered acceptable for some vegetarians, but not vegans.

So, how do you know if a winery uses these fining agents or additives? The answer, look at the back label of the wine. Some wineries, not all, will also be Vegan Certified so they will have the official logo on the label.

If they aren’t certified, you can determine whether non-vegan friendly additives are in the wine by looking at the back label. In Australia, all wine labeling is governed by the Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code (‘FSANZ’). Under the code you will find the additives Casein and Albumin are listed under Food Standard 1.2.3 as ‘Allergens’ and given this, by law in Australia, the wine producer must identify their use in the wine-making process on their back label.

When you read the back label on wines you will see one of the following statements to indicate these additives have been used in the wine-making process:

  • Produced with milk
  • Contains/produced with milk product
  • Produced with milk. Traces may remain
  • Produced with milk products. Traces may remain.

In case you are wondering, there are alternatives wine producers can use instead of milk protein, animal protein and egg white. These are things like substituting animal based gelatin with plant based gelatin like pea and potato protein. For milk and egg white you could replace with bentonite and activated charcoal amongst other things.

So now you know. We’d love to hear how you feel about it and whether you’d be keen to see all wines switch to a vegan approach?

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  1. Veganism in winemaking sounds like a technique looking for a problem. If you are serious about changing a centuries old practice, you will need to define the issue better. What are the issues associated with current non vegan practices, and what are the upsides of the vegan approach. Consider also that Tahbilk has made extraordinary wines for a long time, using traditional fining techniques, and the consumer market is unlikely to take major change lightly. Personally I think Tahbilk wines are amazing as they are, albeit not well known or appreciated in the marketplace. They are real bargains.

  2. Hi Hayley

    I’m so pleased you raised this topic! My taking up veganism was prompted from wanting to avoid cruelty to animals, especially anything that ultimately meant the animal is killed (hence the dairy industry, for example, is regarded as slaughter based). I was very ignorant about the animal products used in the production of wine until recently and have to admit that I have continued to drink it nonetheless. I can live without dairy products (just), but without wine? Never! So I for one would be delighted if Tahbilk were to adopt the use of non animal products in the production of your delicious wines.

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment.


    Jane (and Frank)

  3. Thank you for the article. Indeed it has been very difficult to find vegan friendly wine in Australia, let alone a good vegan friendly wine. I hope Tahbilk can take the lead in developing and using vegan friendly fining agents for all your wines. Being vegan for more than 25 years, we will certainly be one of the first ambassador to help promote Tahbilk to all the choose cruelty free groups, vegan clubs and our friends.

  4. Hi Hayley
    With this ingredient substituting proposed, what
    effect does it have ( or will likely have ) on –
    * Wine longevity / aging
    * Long term taste effect(s)
    * Production cost(s) , if any.

  5. Dear Hayley,

    As a chemist activated charcoal can and will remove other organic from the wine and make them quite different to what they are now and I assume bentonite May also have a similar affect. Most people are not vegans so please don’t change all wines but make a different range vegan friendly.

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