Vegan Wines from Vintner's Alliance with 1 Cent Shipping | picklesnhoney.com

Wait, isn’t wine vegan?!

Wait, isn't wine vegan?! | How to Find Vegan Wines | picklesnhoney.com

That was my response a couple of years ago as a new vegetarian-turned-vegan, and it’s a question I often hear from others when I tell them wine isn’t necessarily without animal products. Similar to my own response, the follow-up question is then:

“But isn’t wine just grapes and yeast?”

No, not usually. Dissimilar to processed foods, for example, wine is not required to include its ingredients on the label, and where it becomes a potential issue for vegan consumers is in the materials used for clarification, which simply put, means removing any visible particles from the wine (dead yeast cells, grape skins, proteins, tannins, etc). This is done to prevent the wine, and especially white wines, from appearing cloudy, even though it usually doesn’t have an impact on the flavor or aroma. Most wines will actually self-clarify (also known as fining) if given enough time, but the vast majority of producers use clarification agents to expedite the process.

I think of it like my homemade kombucha. Sure, those yeast strands are harmless, but they’re definitely not appetizing to look at, and if you’ve ever taken a gulp of kombucha with a few of them…well, that texture freaks me out more than the scoby.

Wait, isn't wine vegan?! | How to Find Vegan Wines | picklesnhoney.com

What then are many wine makers using to clarify their wines? 

Most common would be egg whites and isinglass (derived from fish bladders), as well as casein (milk protein), gelatin (animal protein), and a few others. To be clear, these are not additives to the wine (they are precipitated out), but small traces of the fining agents may be absorbed into the wine during the process. And even if they were removed 100% from the final product, this would still not make them any more vegan-friendly.

Fortunately, as I’ve come to find out with many things since going vegan, this is yet another area where we do not need to be using animal products to achieve the same level of quality and taste. Instead, winemakers can use clays, such as bentonite (also makes a great face mask!), and activated charcoal (ditto for face and body!), or they can opt to not fine their wines at all and allow them to self-clarify over a longer time period. FYI: these wines will usually be labeled as unfiltered.

Practically speaking, though, it’s all but impossible to walk into a wine store (or even worse, a crowded Trader Joe’s) and figure out which wines are vegan. It’s hardly ever stated on the label, most employees have no idea, and though sites like Barnivore can be helpful, trying to navigate their website on an iphone while dodging shopping carts (hello, TJ’s) and staring down a big assortment of options is totally overwhelming.

There’s finally a better solution!

Vegan Wines from Vintner's Alliance with 1 Cent Shipping | picklesnhoney.com

I was contacted a few weeks ago by Vintners’ Alliance, who had just launched a selection of vegan wines. There are a little over a dozen options at the moment ranging in price from $13 to $40 per bottle, and Aaron and I were given the opportunity to sample a few.

Paul Dolan Vineyards Organic 2011 Chardonnay via Vintner's Alliance Vegan Wines | picklesnhoney.com

The first bottle we tried was an organic Paul Dolan Vineyards 2011 Chardonnay, which was much more my speed than Aaron’s (he likes what I lovingly call “palate killers”). Surprisingly, he actually said “this is good…for a Chardonnay”, and since it was on the sweeter side, I of course enjoyed it. It’s described as a blend of ripe pear, crisp apple, and winter citrus fruit, complemented by creamy vanilla spice. We both really enjoyed the almost buttery vanilla spice.

2006 d'Arenberg Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon via Vintner's Alliance Vegan Wines | picklesnhoney.com

Next up was a 2006 d’Arenberg Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon. It was the priciest of the bunch at $40 and I secretly hoped we wouldn’t like it, but this was Aaron’s favorite and I understood why. Here’s the description:

“The wine is deep and dark, almost to the point of being black. The nose is intense with varietal cassis and mint balanced with an earthy leafiness, slight eucalypt and a hint of dark chocolate. It’s wonderfully enticing with enough complexity to draw you back to uncover the pretty floral violet tones. The palate is linear and pointed with a lovely tannin structure that drives the wine to a long finish with a slight explosion of chalky mineral tannins that are utterly moorish. Although still youthful and tight, the palate delivers on the promise of the nose with lovely savoury characters of dried herb and tobacco leaf and a touch of pot pourri adding to the rich fruit.”

To that I will add my sophisticated and expert notes: it was bold and had a super dry finish. (this is why I don’t write wine descriptions)

Organic Parducci Wine Cellars 2010 Reserve Grenache via Vintner's Alliance Vegan Wines | picklesnhoney.com

And lastly, we sampled an organic Parducci Wine Cellars 2010 Reserve Grenache. This was my least favorite because I found it to be so spicy, but Aaron, not surprisingly, thought it was a solid red. It’s described as having “a nose of sweet raspberries” and being medium-bodied with a long finish.

The best part of all, though, is that shipping from Vintners’ Alliance is just 1 cent on all orders! Yes, seriously.

I had such a great experience working with them on this review and really love that they’re making it not only easy for us vegans to find good wine, but affordable as well, that I’ve decided to sign on as an affiliate. So, if you’re ever in need of some wine (and who isn’t?), there’s now a sidebar banner on my blog for easy access.

Tell me: Are you a white wine or a red wine lover? Big and bold or sweet and fruity?

If it tastes like juice, that’s what I’ll be drinking. If it tastes like dirt and tobacco and burns your throat, that’s what Aaron will have (I’m kidding…a little).

xo
Amanda

Photography by Aaron Scott.

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  1. I love white wine during the warmer months and red wine during the winter!

  2. I am a white wine person generally but if i m eating a heavy meal or in a really nice Italian, I will try something red.

  3. Big, bold red wine lover! I had no idea wine wasn’t vegan. That’s crazy. I wish they had to put not only ingredients, but also the calories on the bottles. I know the bottles wouldn’t look as pretty, but this is information I’d like to know! It’s so weird how the alcohol industry doesn’t have to abide by some of the same rules as the food (and non-alcoholic drink) companies…

  4. Meredith says

    though sites like Barnivore can be helpful, trying to navigate their website on an iphone while dodging shopping carts (hello, TJ’s) and staring down a big assortment of options is totally overwhelming.

    Preach! Story of my life every time I’m in the wine store. It’s so frustrating trying to find vegan wine—which is unfortunate, since I love having a glass of red with dinner!

    1. Amanda says

      Totally! I usually end up getting flustered, giving up, and going home empty-handed!

  5. Laura S. says

    I used to go for the “juices” but now I am happier with a drier red wine. Still enjoy a Reisling or Pinot Gris but can only drink one of those now (of course that’s not saying much because I can’t drink a lot of any alcohol these days!). Thanks for the info on this company and these wines!

  6. Ah! Thank you for this post. People are always shocked to hear that not all wines are vegan! I love Barnivorn, too! 🙂 Gorgeous photographs, Amanda!

  7. Rachael says

    Many wines do label that they are “unfined” or “unfiltered” even if they aren’t labeled “vegan”. That might help narrow the search down a little. And I usually love the unfiltered wines anyway…something a little wild and unrefined for me!

    1. Amanda says

      That’s a great suggestion, Rachael. I love what you said about opting for wine that’s “a little wild and unrefined” too. 🙂

  8. Lauren says

    I love dry white wine or standard red wine (not too sweet, not too dry). Nummy!

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