Health Magazine

What the Heck is Vegan Wine?

By Chere Di Boscio

Vegan food can be a bit of a landmine: does that cheese-less pizza have egg in it’s base? Does that vegetarian curry have cream in it? Ghee? Is that sugar-free muffin sweetened with honey?

As a lifelong vegetarian, I thought I knew about vegan’s needs pretty well – that is, until I had dinner with one who asked for vegan wine. At first I thought he was taking the mickey – what the heck is vegan wine? How could that even exist, since it’s obviously made of grapes? But then he enlightened me on a few fishy facts about booze.

For example, the wine making process often involves egg whites, blood, fish oil, bone marrow or gelatin – which is found in animal bones and hooves. During the winemaking process, the liquid is filtered through substances called “fining agents.” This process is used to remove protein, yeast, cloudiness, “off” flavours and colourings, and other organic particles. To ensure your wine is free of animal products, always look to make sure it’s labelled as vegan.


But even beer isn’t always vegan friendly. For example, did you know that Guinness isn’t vegan friendly because it uses isinglass, which is made from the swim bladders of fish. Although there isn’t a trace of it in the beer, it is a direct product used in the manufacturing process.

Wanna know how Minute Maid’s grapefruit looks so “ruby red”? It’s from cochineal (otherwise known as carmine, carminic acid, or Natural Red 4). Because this dye is made from an insect called the cochineal, it isn’t vegan. Make sure to check the label on any red-hued products you might be using since there’s a possibility, cochineal is one of the ingredients.


Other vegan caveats involve watching out for certain kinds of juices and grenadine as mixers – those which use artificial colourings such as Minute Maid’s ruby red grapefruit juice, may be using cochineal, (aka carmine, Natural Red 4 or carminic acid), which comes from the cochineal insect.

Luckily, almost all spirits are vegan, and vegans can certainly find an increasing number of brands they can enjoy, including all those on the list below.

Cin Cin!

Vegan Wine Brands

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