There are two reasons for vegans to feel positive about the future of the wine industry in relation to veganism:
1. There has been a clear rise in the use of non-animal by-products for use as a fining agent. With the increased success of these agents, it makes sense for all winemakers to follow suit. Why use an animal by-product and exclude an ever increasing demographic of wine consumers when there are perfect alternatives that perform the same role? These alternatives include clay-based agents such as bentonite, carbon, limestone, plant casein and activated charcoal which are all vegan and vegetarian friendly. Easy.
2. There has also been a clear rise in the natural wine movement around the world. In wine circles you will commonly hear phrases such as minimal intervention, low added sulphur and unfined and unfiltered. This essentially means that the particular winemaker has chosen to allow the grape and terroir of the land they were grown on to be the protagonists of the wine. By allowing nature to take control of the end product, the winemaker allows the wine to portray a truer reflection of the land rather than manually manipulating it during the winemaking process. Part of this will often mean the winemaker does not fine or filter the wine, they believe by doing so they strip out essential characteristics of the final product. No fining = no fining agents = no risk for vegans!
The main problem we have is that there are no legal requirements to state on the label that a particular wine is vegan friendly. Whilst many wineries do include this, it is not essential. There are many ways you can find out if a wine is vegan friendly:
Check the labels. Many wineries confirm on the label if they are suitable for vegans.
Shop at your local independent wine store. These guys choose every element of their stock and understand the wine making process that goes into their wines and can usually tell you pretty quickly which wines are suitable.
Do your research online. Websites such as Barnivore are superb in providing an online directory of vegan wines.
Ask us at Copa Wine.
We may not know the answer straight away but we’re happy to help get you the answer!
Here’s our recommendation for vegan friendly wines...
Best Vegan Wines: Alma Das Donas – Alma Larga
Based in the ancient land of Ribeira Sacra in Galicia, North West Spain. Alma Das Donas (Soul of the Mother) is a fairly new project from a husband and wife team Lara and Roberto. The term heroic viticulture is applied to the region due the difficulty for producing wine here and the difficulty of the land. This is a tiny project with only a few thousand bottles produced each year.
This is their multi-award winning wine made from Godello which is a native grape to the region. In the 1970’s this grape was almost extinct and would have been if not for the efforts of the 1974 RE.VI.VAL (REstructuring of the VIneyards of VALdeorras) project with to restore native grapes, including Godello, to their former glory in the Valdeorras region in Galicia.
Made from the Godello grape, aged on the lees for four months and filtered using a vegan friendly pea protein. Pale yellow in appearance, it is fruity, mineral and creamy and combines the citrus fruit punch of an Albarino with the yeasty, complex structure of a Chardonnay. Can be drunk now or left to bottle age to reach full maturity. Easy to see why this scored 91 points and 4 stars in La Guia Penin and has been winning awards left, right and centre the past 18 months.
Available from Copa Wine for £96 for a case of 6 bottles.
Best Vegan Wines: Albet I Noya – Petit Albet
With party season fast approaching, sparkling wine will be poured regularly over the coming weeks. Whilst many will opt for big branded and overpriced Champagne bottles, we’d recommend choosing a far more reasonably priced Cava.
Cava is a style of wine produced in Spain and made using the traditional method just as Champagne does. This traditional method involves a second fermentation within the bottle itself which produces the characteristic bubbles and unique flavours of these wines. If you know the right Cava producers, you can obtain Champagne-quality wines at a fraction of the cost.
We’d recommend producer Albet I Noya from the iconic Penedes region in Cataluña, pioneers in organic winemaking in Spain. They are now on their 5th generation of family farmers and have been growing organically since 1978, way before many in the region had even heard of organic farming. We’ve chosen their young sparkling wine Petit Albet made from a traditional blend of local grape Macabeo, Xarel·lo and Parellada.
The wine is floral with brisk white fruit flavours and gentle bubbles that make this Cava extremely versatile and easy drinking. The 15-month ageing has added texture as well as complexity to the flavour profile. Great value for money and a wonderful alternative to Champagne and Prosecco.
Available from Copa Wine for £94 for a case of 6 bottles.
Best Vegan Wines: Theodorus – Dornfelder
An amazing value for money wine from Pfalz wine region in Germany. Weingut Theodorus is a renowned family-owned wine estate that can proudly claim a 230-year history since its founding in 1778. Since 1996 the estate has been run by Thomas Lergenmüller who worked tirelessly to convert all of his 14 hectares to organic cultivation with official certification being awarded in 2011.
Thomas Lergenmüller says that “the gentle handling of nature is the basic requirement for achieving highest qualities in wine.” This wine is made from 100% Dornfelder and is filled with ripe red fruit and an interesting savoury character. The cool German weather leaves bucket loads of acidity in the wine and combined with smooth tannins, a silky texture and flavours of plum, bramble fruits, loganberry and black cherry make this the perfect winter wine.
Available from Copa Wine for £84 for a case of 6 bottles.
Copa Wine: 07780958491