With veganism growing increasingly popular each day, more and more vegan-friendly products are becoming widely available. There’s vegan cheese, burgers, bacon, milk, wine… Wait, about that last one – aren’t grapes vegan?
Well, grapes are surely vegan, but there’s something you might not know regarding the winemaking process which can turn wine into a non-vegan beverage. Let’s dive deep into the aromatic world of wines and discover what’s the key difference between vegan and conventional vines.
How is Wine Made?
Ever wondered how your favourite grape juice is made? Well, the winemaking process usually revolves around these following steps:
- Harvesting and Sorting
- Crushing and pressing
It all starts in the vineyard where the sweet, juicy grapes are harvested. Although you can make wine out of almost every fruit, nothing beats grapes since they’re loaded with sugar, tannins, esters i.e everything you need to produce delicious, stable wine. Winemakers start harvesting the grapes when they’re ripe enough and this can be determined with the use of technology or a simple taste test. Many estates prefer the hand-picking method since it’s gentler on the vineyard, but the use of machinery is also very common.
Then, after the harvesting comes the sorting of the grapes when winemakers decide which grapes won’t make the cut. Unripe or rotten grapes are removed in this stage before continuing with the crushing and pressing.
Thanks to the advancement of technology, people have a more efficient method to crush and press the grapes instead of stomping and dancing in barrels. Machines do all the work to extract juices from the fruits and this allows for a greater quality and longevity of the wine, but it also reduces the need for preservatives, (not to mention that it’s also more sanitary).
The next stage is where the magic happens. If the wild yeast is left to its job the juice along with all the seeds and skins starts fermenting within 6 to 12 hours, but many winemakers decide to kill the unpredictable yeast that floats in the air and add their own strains. Depending on the preferred taste and the types of grapes used, the fermentation period can differ. It can take anywhere from ten days to one month or more. The fermentation process continues until all the sugars have turned into alcohol unless winemakers want to produce sweeter wine and interrupt the process earlier.
The clarification process is needed to remove the pomace from the wine. This can be done by transferring the wine from one vessel to another, but it often includes filtering and fining to remove any unwanted materials that can affect the colour, taste and aroma of the wine.
Finally, the wine is ready for bottling or aging depending on the desired outcome.
What’s the Difference between Vegan and Regular Wine?
Everything might seem vegan up until now, but the secret lies in the fining process. Some of the fining agents used to produce conventional wine come from animal sources. Examples include casein which is a milk protein, albumin which is a protein found in egg whites, gelatine which is derived from animals and isinglass a type of gelatine obtained from fish. Although these agents are precipitated out along with the pomace, the wine might absorb small traces which is unacceptable for those who eat a vegan diet.
Fining is an especially important step when it comes to white wine production. Vegan white wine goes through a delicate process to ensure maximum clarity. Some winemakers decide to quickly press the grapes after crushing to minimize skins, seeds and stem contact because they can affect the colour of the wine. Vegan wine is often left to self-clarify or winemakers use vegan-friendly agents in the fining process. Some of the most common vegan agents are activated charcoal, bentonite clay, kaolin clay, limestone and vegetable plaques.
The aging process of white vegan wines is also different than their red competitors. Red wines can age in barrels, whereas white wines are aged in stainless steel vats.
Why Should You Try Vegan Wine?
No matter if you’re vegan or not, vegan wine will delight your taste buds and quickly win your heart because it doesn’t only taste great, but it’s also a healthier alternative than conventional wine. You can expect a fresher taste, richer flavour and a vivacious aroma since there’re no chemicals or preservatives added to enhance the quality of the grapes.
Speaking of chemicals, it’s worth mentioning that most vegan wines are also organic which means that there aren’t any artificial and synthetic ingredients which can be harmful to your health and the ecosystem. One more reason to start sipping on vegan wine as soon as possible is that it contains higher levels of resveratrol– a powerful antioxidant with anti-aging properties.
White Wines Taste Test
With hot weather just around the corner, you’re quickly going to need a light, crisp beverage to quench your thirst. And what can be better than a glass of refreshing vegan white wine on a hot sunny day? This is why we’re going to review some of the vegan white wines Australia has to offer and leave their red counterparts for next time.
The first vegan-friendly white wine that deserves your attention is Pure Vision’s Sauvignon Blanc because it didn’t win a gold medal at the Australian Wine Showcase Magazine ‘Organic Tasting’ for nothing. The palate is showing good structure and length and the ripe tropical flavours and aromas will pair well with salads, spicy dishes and dark vegan chocolate.
The next vegan white wine Australia is proud of is the Pinot Gris 2019 by Little Goat Creek. It’s a great example of Kiwi Pinot Gris with pear and citrus notes that’ll enchant your nose and taste buds. It’s a fresh and very drinkable wine that’ll excellently complement grilled vegetables, salads and smoked vegan cheese.
There can’t be a vegan wines review without mentioning The Best Things In Life Are Free 2019 Chardonnay. This drinking pleasure will delight you with its wonderful lifted aromatics. The full baked apple characters are balanced out with ripe lime notes which make the wine zesty, yet soft in body. It pairs well with avocado, creamy dishes and pasta.
Another great vegan wine comes from Happs. The Preservative Free White 2018 has a complex aroma and rich flavour with a long creamy finish. The aroma has notes of white flowers, lemon rind, apple pie and cashew nut whereas the flavour displays toast, butter and almond meal. This wine doesn’t contain allergens which may prevent many consumers from enjoying wine. You can enjoy it with vegan cheese or creamy pasta.
Now that you know what you need to keep an eye for when it comes to vegan-friendly wines, you can use the friendly suggestions above as a starting point or hop online to discover more amazing vegan white wines.