Avoiding dairy and eggs doesn’t mean sobriety
Question from Claire: Bonjour! I feel silly asking, but here it goes – is wine vegan?
Question from Laura: Does wine contain eggs and/or dairy?
In a nut shell – So I figure these questions are very similar and hence why I’m answering them together. Unfortunately, wine is not vegan and does contain traces of dairy and/or egg but don’t put down your glass just yet. It’s not that simple. Read on!
In a clam shell – At the end of the wine making process most winemakers will clear out the floaties and remove any unwanted flavours left in the wine (yeast, protein, cloudiness) before bottling it, by ‘fining’ the wine which involves adding a fining agent. The problem here is that fining agents are animal based products, namely isinglass (fish bladders), gelatine, casein (milk protein) and egg whites.
The good (well, not bad) news for people with dairy, egg or fish allergies is that only tinnie tiny traces remain after fining the wine, meaning a very very low risk for people with food allergies. A recent study conducted in Greece, showed that fining agents are not detectable in wines with current laboratory methods however most patients with allergies did test positive to skin prick tests. Something to keep in mind.
So now lets talk about labelling and how you can avoid wines with milk, egg and/or fish products.
Since 2002, Australian and New Zealand wine makers have been required to list fining agents used in the winemaking process on the wine label BUT labelling laws only require allergens to be listed so unfortunately vegan’s can’t be 100% sure that any wine (unless ‘vegan’ is stated on the label) is vegan friendly.
Regarding European wines, as of 1 July 2012 all European Union (EU) countries have been required to list the presence of milk and eggs in their wines. The problem for us is that only the United Kingdom has to label this in English and with a minimum of 15 languages in the EU it’s going to get very confusing. I don’t know about you but I’ve checked out plenty of European wine labels since 1 July 2012 and I don’t see the words dairy or eggs listed anywhere.
So the moral to this story my friend? DRINK WITH CAUTION and always make sure you read the label. If you’ve got a killer allergy or are a strict vegan I’d avoid all wine unless the bottle specifically says that the wine is vegan friendly. I don’t want any allergic reactions coming back to bite me in the butt. Sorry to be the barer of bad news.
Where can you get vegan wines? Unfortunately vegan wines are limited. When you’re at your local bottlo ask what wines are vegan friendly, they’ll have a few options (Dan’s has a few options too). Same goes when you’re out for dinner, just explain your dietary requirements and nine times out of 10 times there should be an option. It’s becoming more trendy these days (like gluten free) so most places accommodate.
I stumbled across this website the other day which lists hundreds of Aussie vegan friendly wines. Yahoooo! Lastly, if you’re sick of drinking vegan wine at home there is a fabulous new wine bar in West Melbourne called Clever Polly‘s. It’s a natural wine bar that stocks booze made with minimal interventions during the fermentation process and a few vegan wines too! You can drink in or drink away! Clever idea Polly!