DMV Blog

What Goes Into Making A Vegan Wine

Wine is made from fermented grapes — and grapes are a fruit. Vegan foods are those that do not come from animals. So, it stands to reason that all wine would be vegan, right?

Not necessarily.

While the main ingredient in wine is a fruit, and therefore vegan, animal products are sometimes used during the winemaking process — meaning the product itself is not vegan. In fact, you might be surprised by the number of wines that are not vegan.

So, what goes into making a vegan wine? And what happens during the winemaking process that makes it so most wines are not vegan? We’ve got the answers for you right here.

What happens during the winemaking process?

Most wine goes through a clarification process called “fining” when it is being made, regardless of origin or type. This is because, when a wine is young, it is cloudy and contains minute molecules like phenolics, tartrates, proteins, and tannins. This is a perfectly natural occurrence, but most wine drinkers tend to prefer their wines crisp, bright, and clear — which is accomplished through the fining process. The quality, taste, and safety of the wine are not compromised in any way during filtration.

Over time, most wines will fine and stabilize on their own. However, many producers will add fining agents to speed up the process. These agents help coagulate the molecules that produce the haze. The molecules clump together, forming larger — and fewer — particles, which means that they can be removed much easier. This type of fining clarifies the wine in a shorter amount of time than letting nature takes its course, getting it out of the winery and into your glass more quickly!

The fining agents used during this process are typically animal products, including:

  • Gelatin (animal protein)
  • Casein (milk protein)
  • Isinglass (fish bladder protein)
  • Albumin (egg whites)

All four of these agents are off limits for vegans, who do not consume products that have been derived from or processed using animal products.

What are some vegan alternatives and how do you know your wine has them?

More and more, winemakers are looking to move away from traditional fining agents. Clay-based agents like bentonite work well and are becoming increasingly popular. Activated charcoal is another vegan friendly fining agent that is currently being used. And some winemakers are foregoing fining agents altogether and letting nature take its course. These wines typically carry the label “Not Filtered” or “Not Fined.”

Currently, there are no regulations that require ingredients to be listed on wine. And unfortunately, most companies don’t label their wine as vegan friendly, so finding a vegan wine can be quite difficult. Wines like Lion & Dove — DMV Distributing’s new label debuting in April 2019 — are Certified Vegan and conveniently marked as such for consumers.

Why does it matter if wine is vegan – or not vegan – if I’m not vegan?

While vegan wine is known for its high quality, the main reason that vegan wine matters is because consumers prefer brands that are transparent. Companies that are honest and open about their products and business practices — like producers of labeled vegan wine — are sought after. And this is not just another trend — the movement is centuries old and here to stay.

People are more concerned than ever about what they put into their bodies. They read labels and seek out products that carry specific certifications and endorsements. Alcohol does not have any labeling regulations or requirements. It does not fall under the purview of the USDA nor the FDA. This leaves winemakers to follow their own practices — and they are not held to any certain standards regarding how a wine is labeled.

Even non-vegans are looking for brands that promote humane and sustainable farming alternatives. In fact, studies show that more and more consumers have a general mistrust of food manufacturers in terms of product labeling and food safety. Clearer, truthful labels would serve to increase trust in brands for many consumers. But even beyond that, it is important to know what you are putting into your body, be it food or drink — including wine. 

At DMV Distributing, we carry a wide variety of fine wines — including vegan wines. We believe in the quality and importance of vegan wine so much so that we made sure our Lion & Dove wines achieved Certified Vegan status. And whether you are planning a special event or adding to your collection, we have the perfect wine for you. Browse our product list to discover your next favorite wine.

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Chateau Saint-Nabor Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2021
"a white Côtes du Rhône that
smells like a springtime garden"

EXTRAORDINARY!
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"White wines from the Côtes du Rhône often are flabby and boring, lacking acidity. This rendition from Chateau Saint-Nabor is taut and focused. It offers aromas and flavors of jasmine, honeysuckle, lemongrass, zest and surprising complexity for a wine in this price range. I wrote about this winery’s chardonnay before; the Côtes du Rhône blanc is one to look out for."

reviewed by Dave MacIntyre in the Washington Post 6.9.22

Available in these fine stores:
DC
Classy Corks Wine & Spirits, Washington, https://www.classycorksdc.com/
Rodman's Discount Gourmet, Washington, https://www.rodmans.com/
DELAWARE
Fairfax Discount Liquors, Wilmington, http://fairfaxdiscountliquors.com
Hockessin Liquors, Hockessin, http://www.hockessinwines.com/
Tax Free Liquors, Delmar, https://taxfreeliquor.com/
MARYLAND
Bay Wine & Spirits, North Beach, https://www.baywineandspirits.com
Bella's Liquors, Annapolis, http://www.bellasliquors.com
Blue Wind Gourmet, Lexington Park, www.bluewindgourmet.com
Bottoms Up Wine & Spirits, Hagerstown, https://bottomsupwinenspirits.com/
The Breadery, Catonsville, https://www.breaderyonline.com/
Canton Crossing, Baltimore, https://cantoncrossingwine.com
Dunkirk Wine & Spirits, Dunkirk, https://www.facebook.com/DunkirkWineandSpirits/
Eastport Liquors, Annapolis, https://eastportliquors.com/
Eddies, Baltimore, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100054509798280
Fairground Discount Beverage, Timonium, https://www.fairgroundsliquors.com
Firefly Farms, Accident, www.fireflyfarms.com
Fireside Deli & Wine Shop, Swanton, https://www.yelp.com/biz/fireside-deli-and-wine-shop-swanton
Leonardtown Wine and Spirits, Leonardtown, https://www.yelp.com/biz/leonardtownws-leonardtown
Longmeadow Wine & Liquor, Hagerstown, www.longmeadowwine.com
Maple Lawn Wine & Spirits, Fulton, https://www.facebook.com/Maple-Lawn-Wine-Spirits-330978827541182/
Marlin Market, Pocomoke City, https://www.facebook.com/Marlin-Market-340903776487876
McHenry Beverage Shoppe, McHenry, https://www.facebook.com/pages/McHenry-Beverage-Shoppe/1686590471570710
Mt Airy Liquors, Mt Airy, https://www.mtairyliquors.com/
Old Farm Liquors, Frederick, http://www.oldfarmliquors.com/
Pratt Liquor & Convenience, Baltimore, https://www.yelp.com/biz/pratt-liquors-baltimore
River Hill Wine & Spirits, Clarksville, https://www.riverhillfws.com/
Sipside Lounge, Oakland, http://sipside.net/
Tiger Wine & Spirits, Towson, 
Town Center Market, Riverdale, https://www.towncentermarket.net/
Town Market Basket, Snow Hill, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100057324713771
Vagabond Taproom, Oakland, https://www.vagabondtaps.com/
Victoria Gastro Pub, Columbia, https://www.victoriagastropub.com/
Village Spirits, Smithsburg, https://www.yelp.com/biz/village-spirits-smithsburg-2
Wells Discount Liquors, Baltimore, www.wellswine.com
Wine Shoppe, Waldorf, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=149748148402194
The Winery, Chester, https://thewineryki.com/