Veganism is on the increase. In 2018 Forbes reported that between 2014 and 2017 the US experienced a 600% increase in people identifying as vegan. A vegan is someone who avoids products, particularly food and drink, that consist of animal products.
Unlike food products, there is no legal requirement for winemakers to list all the ingredients in their wine. In some instances, this creates a dilemma for particular groups like vegans.
I receive a number of queries about whether our wines are suitable for vegans. The short, sharp answer is YES. The more comprehensive answer follows.
The ingredients in wine are generally grapes, yeast and sulphur dioxide (see my last blog outlining our approach to SO2). The obvious question is, “wherein the above would one find products of animal extract?”
Animal-based ingredients in a wine are generally found in fining agents and clarifiers. These are used to clarify the wine and remove any impurities. It is, in essence, a form of filtering. The winemaker does this by selecting a particular fining agent, adding it to the wine causing any cloudiness or impurities to sink to the bottom of whatever container the wine is being stored in. The wine is then racked-off leaving a residue at the bottom of the container which is disposed of.
Some of the animal-based fining materials winemakers might select from include fish bladders, egg whites, and mammal proteins in the form of gelatine. The most popular non-vegan alternative is bentonite clay. Whilst fining agents aren’t used in all wines, vegans generally enquire as to whether they are, and if so whether they are of animal extract.
This is how we clarify and remove any impurities in Avondale wines. Firstly, we do not believe in fining our wines as we believe it strips the pure essence, the soul, of the wine.
Secondly, we believe in the slow unhurried development of our wines. This causes impurities to naturally drop to the bottom of the barrel. It also ensures that the wines clear themselves naturally.
If our winemaker feels the need to ensure there are no large objects such as pips or other natural residues, he may do a gentle coarse filter at bottling.
Avondale wines are truly made with the minimum of interference – the way mother nature intended.