What makes a Wine Vegan or Vegetarian?

By Lynne Coyle MW | O'Briens Wine Director

Surely if wine is made from grapes it is automatically vegetarian and vegan friendly, right? This is true, but there are some winery practices to consider during the winemaking that you should be aware of if you want to ensure your wine is suitable for vegetarians or vegans.

After grapes have been fermented into wine and before bottling, the winemaker would usually require that the appearance of the wine be clear and jewel bright without a haze.

 

This requires that the spent skins, pulp, seeds, yeast lees and other matter slowly drop to the bottom of the fermentation vessel. Some winemakers prefer that the settling happens slowly, over time, at cool temperatures over the winter.

 

Eventually, when the wine is clear, it can gently be removed from the spent lees at the bottom of the vessel. Depending on wine style and to some extent commercial timelines, this process can take place more quickly by cooling the wine for example, or using other cellar techniques.


Either way, there can still be dissolved matter dispersed throughout the wine which may reappear as a haze or crystals in the future over time, due to, for example, temperature changes. Therefore, in order to achieve stability of appearance, colour, aroma, flavour and overall wine quality, wines are fined (filtered).

 

Whilst not all winemakers fine their wines, where they do, it is here that any trace amounts of these fining agents such as gelatin or isinglass that may be left in the wine after bottling making that wine unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans.


Vegetarian-friendly egg whites and casein, are widely used in fining especially in red wines. But, for a wine to be suitable for vegans, wines fined with products such as carbon, bentonite clay, limestone, kaolin clay, plant casein, silica gel or vegetable plaques are appropriate.

 

But how do you know? The best way to identify if your wine is vegetarian or vegan suitable is to check the back label copy. Formal certification for vegan and vegetarian wines is starting to become more wide spread - look out for the green 'V' symbols on the back label. Checking the wineries website is another good source of information.

RÓS ROSÉ

Navarra, Spain

RRP: €16.95, NOW:€12.71

 

 

Rós Rosé is made on an artisanal scale by O’Briens Wine Director Lynne Coyle and our long-time partners, Bodega Tandem in Navarra. The Garnacha grapes grow in sustainably farmed vineyards in the cooler Yerri Valley close to the Pyrenees and the Atlantic Ocean. After hand-picking and a short skin maceration, the grapes are fermented using wild vineyard yeasts and a minimal intervention regime follows in the winery, including fining the wine with Vegan-friendly products.

Rós Rosé is food friendly, dry, crisp, and elegant with summery red fruits notes of raspberry and strawberry and a refreshing lingering finish.

 

The Grape Press:

"A delicious ripe food rosé with rose petal aromas, strawberry and peach fruits. Big enough to handle most red most dishes, it would also handle white meats such as chicken with aplomb, as well as salmon and tuna."
-John Wilson, The Irish Times

 

Rós winemakers Alicia Eyaralar (L) and Lynne Coyle MW (R)


Laurent Miquel (far right) and Neasa (second from left) with family in Languedoc

LAURENT MIQUEL LA GAUPIHNE SAUVIGNON BLANC

Languedoc, France

RRP: €14.95, NOW:€10.95

 

 

Laurent Miquel is the 8th generation of his family to work these vineyards in the Languedoc. His Irish wife, Neasa, is originally from Foxrock in County Dublin and is a regular at our Wine Festival. They do not use any animal products to filter any of their wines, so they are all Vegan-friendly

This Sauvignon Blanc marries cool climate fresh green fruit flavours & crisp acidity along with a ripe mid-palate note expected from fruit grown this far south. .

 

The Grape Press:

"Tangy and fresh with lemon zest and passion fruit. Think of it as a toned-down Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc."
-Martin Moran MW, The Sunday Times

 


MUSELLA RIPASSO

Valpolicella, Italy

RRP: €23.95, NOW:€21.95

 

 

Musella is a family owned and run winery, and one of our long-time partners from the north of Italy. They farm their estate with respect to nature and are fully organic and biodynamic certified. Their Vegan-friendly wines do not use any animal products in their production. Musella are one of the '13 Amarone Families', a group of Amarone/Ripasso wineries who are regarded as the best producers in a region of very notable estates.
And it is easy to see why they have earned this lauded reputation: this is one of our richest, most satisfying Ripasso wines, bursting with dense, dark cherry fruit, silky smooth tannins and a fine, beautifully balanced structure.

 

Musella Vineyards in early summer. Wildflowers are allowed to grow between vines to encourage biodiversity