What is vegan wine?
If you're wondering how wine, a drink made with grapes, can be non-vegan then you're not alone - it's a question I get asked a lot. To help answer it, I had a chat with wine expert Angus Hughson, founder of Winepilot. Angus has over 15 years of wine reviews, drinks writing and judging experience to his name, including as Drinks Editor for Wish Magazine in The Australian.
Angus tells me that wine is actually one of the most natural products you can find. "Seriously, you are pretty much drinking the fruits of nature itself when you open up a bottle of wine," he says.
Why isn't all wine vegan?
Wine can literally be made just with grapes and natural yeasts floating around in the air and when produced in that way it will taste okay. But, Angus notes, winemakers like to gently control and add to that process, to maximise the quality for the end consumer.
"One of those processes is called finning, and animal products are often used for this, such as eggs and skim milk. During pressing grapes and fermentation there are natural elements drawn from the grapes which can slightly alter the taste of a wine and also make it hazy. So sometimes animal products are used simply to fine the wine, reduce the haze and soften the final wines," Angus explains.
So how much is added? "Well for eggs, it is only around 5 egg whites for 25 cases of wine, 1 egg white for five cases. As you can see, these natural additions are very small and nothing to worry about although clearly not vegan," Angus tells me.
The good news, for vegans, is that there is no taste difference between vegan wine and non-vegan wine. "For top end wines winemakers may have a preference for one fining agent over another due to better performance but I have not heard any winemaker convincingly argue that a wine will be significantly harmed by using vegan-friendly finding agents," says Angus.
Any tips for picking a good vegan wine? "No tips here," says Angus. "just find a wine you like and stick with it!"
The best vegan alcohol free wine
The blurb: Inspired by the year made famous by the introduction of Prohibition, 1920 Wines instantly become a Sans Drinks favourite when they launched their Italian-style Pinot Grigio.
The taste: This full-flavoured Pinot Grigio has a dry flavour profile and features crisp flavours of Nashi Pear, apple and lemon.
What customers are saying: "A very easy to drink bottle of Pinot Grigio with crisp green apple overtones, I paired it with tandoori chicken for dinner and it was perfect. I would totally recommend this non-alcoholic wine."
The blurb: From one of France's oldest wine houses, this non-alcoholic sparkling is a Sans Drinks best seller.
The taste: A pale golden in colour, this sparkling wine features fine, long-lasting bubbles, an intense and aromatic nose and delicate floral and fruity flavours. It's a well-balanced wine with a long and refreshing finish.
What customers are saying: "I was pleasantly surprised! A lovely refreshing sparkling with a great taste!"
The blurb: The BBC Good Food says that this sparkling wine has raised the bar.
The taste: Close in aroma, taste and mouthfeel to an excellent French Champagne, Noughty has a crisp apple scent and very dry flavour profile.
What customers are saying: "This is the most champagne like alcohol free sparkling wine I have tasted. It's incredibly good. I love it. Not too sweet (or dry). A very special tipple."
The taste: With a classic rose hue, this sparkling wine features aromas of freshly picked summer berries. This well balanced sparkling Rose is invigorating on the palate.
What customers are saying: "This is a great rose version of its counterpart! Very nice, a little sweeter than the regular Noughty bubbly, but just as good!"
The blurb: One of the healthiest non alcoholic wines on the market, this sparkling Rose is packed with plan powered benefits.
The taste: This wine has a complex flavour profile that features rosehip tea, strawberries as well as cornish orchard fruits; crab apple and red apple
What customers are saying: "Felt like we were drinking champagne as it had a crisp initial burst on the tip of the tongue followed by an understated blush of rosey sweetness at the back of the tongue. All four of us gave it a big thumbs up at lunch time."
The taste: A European style Rose, this wine has a light flavour and crisp mouthfeel.
What customers are saying: "Just as yummy as any Rose, but without the next day headaches."
The blurb: Created as a Pétillant Naturel alternative, this beverage has been made without alcohol.
The taste: Lightly carbonated, this wine alternative features raspberries, chamomile and Murray River salt, rounded out by verjus and pristine filtered water.
What customers are saying: "The flavours were absolutely delightful and my husband enjoyed it too - it's now my fav drop from Sans Drinks so far"
The taste: This full bodied and subtly spiced wine alternative is rich in dark fruits and lightly sparkling. Featuring a complex flavour profile with sour cherry, spice and undertones of cold brew coffee.
The blurb: New to Sans Drinks, this incredible non-alcoholic vegan red wine has been made in France via a new process and is the world's first organic, non-fermented, alcohol-free wine.
The taste: With a firm tannic structure, this Cabernet Sauvignon blanc features flavours of jammy fruits, blackcurrant and morello cherry along with notes of vanilla and clove.
The blurb: A great example if a classic French Rose. Organically made, with no added sulphites, no preservatives and no added sugar
The taste: This wine features aromas of delicate red fruits such as redcurrant, blackcurrant and raspberry, along with subtle floral and spicy notes. It's fresh on the palate and has a dry, fruity finish.
The blurb: Made in South Australia with health in mind.
The taste: A full flavoured wine featuring aromas of stone fruits and citrus. The palate is medium bodied and fresh.
What customers are saying: "This is a really pleasant quaffing wine. It's fruity and refreshing. Definitely something I'll be ordering on a regular basis."
The blurb: If you're heading out to a party, BBQ or picnic, keep your vegan wine cool in our Sunnylife cooler bag.