Once upon a time, someone came across a fermented bit of grape juice and decided to drink it anyway, and we’re reaping the benefits of that discovery to this day. Nectar of the gods, ambrosia itself, wine has been enjoyed for 8,000 years or so… and I am eternally grateful to that nameless person who first quaffed the offerings of those humble grapes.
What I’m less grateful for is the person (or people) who thought it would be a great idea to slosh some animal products through the wine in an effort to make it better, in their opinion. Granted, during the fermentation process there can be a fair bit of sediment that’s created and needs to be sifted out, and they used the materials they were familiar with to sift them out (like gelatin, isinglass, casein and egg albumin), but with the leaps and bounds that have been made recently to create all manner of materials, I can’t understand why animal products are still being used for wine making. Some vineyards may argue that they’re adhering to the traditional brewing methods passed down for centuries, but harming others for the sake of tradition is never OK in my books.
Fortunately, there are several wineries that either leave their wine unfiltered, or do not use animal products to clarify or filter their lovely libations.
An invaluable resource for your vegan wine queries is the Barnivore website. Whether your preference is for red wine, white wine, rose’, sparkling wine, icewine or champagne, there are now vegan options available across the board. In some cases, a vineyard may produce only a couple of wines that are vegan-friendly while still using animal products in others, and some vineyards are entirely vegan. Inniskillin is of the former, as it uses skim milk powder to clarify its whites and icewines, but their reds are 100% free of any animal products. The Vegan Vine is one of the latter, creating wines that are made entirely with no animal products whatsoever in any of their wines. With a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Sauvignon Blanc, and a luscious-sounding Red Blend, their offerings are sure to delight any wine enthusiast.
It’s rare that a wine company will label their offerings as “vegan” or “vegan-friendly”, so it’s important to do your research before heading to the liquor store to pick up a holiday bottle. Or nine. As mentioned, the Barnivore website has a very long, comprehensive wine list that you can check out before you go shopping, or if someone has recommended a wine to you and you’re uncertain whether it’s veg-friendly or not, just do a quick search for it and in all likelihood, one of the Barnivore gurus has written something up about it.
I was rather heartbroken to discover that many wines that have been favourites of mine for years are, in fact, not vegan friendly at all. There was a moment of being bummed out, but then the epiphany came along that this is a wondrous opportunity to try out a slew of NEW wines that I know for a fact are cruelty-free. Joy! I can’t think of a better time of year to delve into the many vegan wines out there than over the holidays, and am looking forward to raising a glass with friends and family as we celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year.