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Here’s all you need to know about vegan wines (plus the best ones to try)

How to classify and understand the winemaking of vegan wines.

By IOL | October 19, 2021 | Recipes

Whether it is because of ethics, the love of animals, because it is fashionable, or for health reasons, veganism has been on the rise in our country in recent years.

On that note, there has been a lot of talk about whether wines can be vegan, so we decided to share with you a guide to vegan wine which explains how to classify and understand the winemaking of vegan wines.

With more and more South Africans choosing a vegan diet, they want their wine to all be vegan-friendly, and that means no animal-based products should be used in the production. Although made from grapes, not all of your favourite wines are vegan.

Experts reveal this is because some wines are produced using a process called fining. They reveal that fining agents, made from animal products such as gelatine or egg whites, are used to help remove tiny molecules of proteins, yeast, and other organic particles in young wines, and this process also helps the wine taste less bitter and make it visibly clearer.

How do you know if a wine is vegan?

Barman at Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront, Melrick Harrison says when the wine is made, one of the processes used is a filtering and or a fining process. This process is there to remove any particles or impurities in wine that can negatively impact the flavour of wine before bottling.

“Fining wine means that there is an agent that gets added to wines. This pushes those impurities and particles toward the bottom of the barrel or tank, adding to sediment and murkiness that was already there. This is then removed at a later stage. However, it’s the agents used that will determine whether a wine is vegan or not,” says Harrison.

He adds that common fining agents used in non-vegan wines are gelatin (collagen taken from animal body parts), isinglass (fish), egg white (egg), casein (milk), arthropods (invertebrate animals), and others, while vegan fining agents will include bentonite (a type of clay), limestone, silica (quartz sand), carbon (charcoal), and vegetable gelatin (peas or potatoes).

Below are our vegan-friendly wine picks that you can try.

2018 Delheim Pinotage Róse

The 2018 Pinotage Róse from Delheim is a vibrant shade of pink. The first impression on the nose is somewhat fruity with an almost candy-like sweetness, giving way to sharper hints of pomegranate and cranberry.

The palate delivers red berry fruit and slight acidity, which helps balance the overriding fruitiness of the wine. If you prefer a “bone-dry” style of róse, then this wine is not that, although at the same time it is not overly sweet.

The vegan-friendly 2018 Rosé features a splash of Muscat de Frontignan (3.5%), which balances the crisp acidity and red berry sweetness with a juicy fruit character and adds to the vibrant perfume character of the wine.

Franschhoek Cellar La Cotte Mill Chenin Blanc 2019

This wine has pineapple, peach, nectarine, and honeysuckle aromas supported by a line of bright citrus and tropical fruit that blossom with leesy intrigue on the palate and finish with zesty freshness and grace.

The grapes undergo a long, cool fermentation in stainless steel followed by four months on the lees with occasional stirring for added richness and complexity.

Brampton Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

This wine earns its reputation as King Cab with deep, defined flavours and incredible structure. Layers of red cherry, mulberry, and blackcurrant are backed up by ripe plum and cocoa on the nose, and luscious dark chocolate notes.

By Lutho Pasiya. This was originally published on IOL.