Finings are substances used during the wine production process to remove particles and improve clarity and flavor. The finings do not remain in the wine, so you aren’t actually consuming them, but if an animal product is used in the production of a product, then that product is not suitable for vegans or other folks interested in purchasing cruelty-free products.
Most winemakers use animal-derived finings and they do not have to put this information on the label. Therefore, you need to consult a vegan wine guide vegans.frommars.org/wine/ before you go wine shopping, since you won’t be able to determine which is suitable for you once you are at the store. You can always ask the clerk, but in my experience, more often than not, they have no idea – unless, of course you are in Whole Foods Market or a natural foods store.
First, for a better understanding, let’s look at the most common non-vegan finings used in wine production.
Isinglass – a gelatinous substance made from the swim bladders of fish (mainly sturgeon and cod)
Chitosan – a fibrous substance made from grinding up the shells of shrimp (and other crustaceans)
Casein – a milk protein
Gelatin – a substance made for the collagen found in the connective tissues (like tendons) of animals
Egg Albumen – the clear part of an egg that turns white when cooked
Animal albumen/dried blood – animal blood, usually bull blood (this one is not allowed in France or the U.S.A.).
Here are some other options for finding vegan wines:
Vegans are from Mars has a great, printable Pocket Vegan Wine Guide that you can take to the store with you.
Visit Vegan Connection www.veganconnection.com/veganwine.htm for a Vegan Wine Guide and online retailers.
Taste Better! has a wine guide listing companies as vegan friendly or not vegan friendly
Some grocery stores, such as Safeway offer a variety of vegan wines.
Whole Foods Market has a great wine selection, some of which are suitable for vegans. Try The Organic Wine Works wines, which will say right on the label if it is vegan.
The Organic Wine Company has a wide variety of vegan wines ranging in price from $9.99 to $49.99.
And, a quick note on champagne – popular brands Dom Perignon and Moet & Chandon are both vegan and are sold anywhere that champagne is sold.