We've got three vegan wines you'll want to be sipping this summer

You may be surprised to learn that not all wines are vegan. In fact, many contain “fining agents,” such as egg whites and gelatin (animal protein).

Pamela Sanderson, the tasting manager at Blue Grouse Estate Winery on Vancouver Island, describes how you can make sure that your next glass of vino is 100 percent vegan.

“The reason that all wines are not vegan or even vegetarian-friendly has to do with how the wine is clarified and a process called ‘fining’. All young wines are hazy and contain tiny molecules such as proteins, tartrates, tannins and phenolics. These are all natural, and in no way harmful. However, we wine-drinkers generally like our wines to be clear and bright.

“Most wines, if left long enough, will stabilize and self-fine," she explains. "However, traditionally producers have used a variety of aids called ‘fining agents’ to help the process along. Fining agents help precipitate out these haze-inducing molecules.”

Fining agents to avoid:

  1. Casein, a milk protein
  2. Albumin, egg whites
  3. Gelatin, animal protein
  4. Isinglass, fish bladder protein

Sanderson further explains, “These fining agents are known as processing aids. They are not additives to the wine, as they are precipitated out along with the haze molecules. Fining with casein and albumin is usually acceptable by most vegetarians, but all four are off limits for vegans because tiny traces of the fining agent may be absorbed into the wine during the fining process.”

Instead, Sanderson notes to look for the following vegan fining agents in your wine, or look for “not fined and/or not filtered” on the wine label:

  1. Benonite, clay
  2. Activated charcoal

Vegan wine recommendations

For the rosé lover: Blue Grouse Estate Winery 2020 Quill Rosé ($23.99)

Blue GrouseBlue Grouse Estate WineryThis vegan rosé is well-balanced, with flavours of strawberry, pink grapefruit and earthiness. Available online at bluegrouse.ca or in-person at the winery in Duncan, on Vancouver Island. 

For the white wine lover: Narrative Pinot Blanc 2019 ($22.90)

white wineA vegan white wine made with Pinot Blanc grapes from Okanagan Crush Pad’s organically farmed Secrest Mountain Vineyard. Expect a rich filling texture, with stone fruit on the nose and herbs and apple on the mouth. Available online at okanagancrushpad.com or in-person at Okanagan Crush Pad in Summerland, B.C.

For the red wine lover: Blue Grouse Estate Winery 2018 Quill Pinot Noir ($27.99)

red wineJacqueline DowneyOn the nose, this vegan Pinot Noir has notes of red plum, cranberries, and vanilla, which is then followed by cherry pie and spice on the palate. A perfect pairing to your favourite vegan pasta dish! Available online at bluegrouse.ca, or in-person at select private wine stores and at the winery in Duncan, on Vancouver Island.