National Vegan Day
November 1st marks World Vegan Day. Vegan wines started as a philosophy rather than a market ploy. Today, there is no “official" designation for vegan or vegetarian wines, as there are no laws in place mandating what is written on the labels. However, 2016 saw the emergence of labels such as Label V and E.V.E Vegan in Europe
What is Fining?
Many wines around the world are clarified and stabilized using fining agents making the appearance clear and vivid and therefore more visually appealing. The most commonly used fining agents are egg whites (albumen), caseins (a protein found in milk), boiled fish bladders (isinglass), gelatin (animal protein), blood/bone marrow, fish oil and shellfish fibers. These animal-derived substances remove tiny organic particles of sediment in wines that cannot be removed by filtration. Fining agents do not change the flavor of the wine.
Vegan Fining Process
In lieu of animal-derived fining agents, vegan wines use suitable alternatives such as bentonite (form of clay or pea protein), silica gel, vegetable plaques, kaolin clay, limestone, carbon and plant casein to clarify wines. Today, more winemakers are choosing to use mineral and plant-based fining agents.
Organic wines aren’t always vegan and vice-versa. Although they are both environmentally friendly products, vegan wines and organic wines can be substantially different from one another. The specification for producing organic wines prohibits the use of animal-based products such as animal-blood based gelatin or albumin, however it permits the use of egg white and casein. An "organic" labeled wine is therefore not necessarily vegan.
Vegan Wine Pairings
If you are vegan or just like eating less animal protein, there are several plant-based recipes and wine pairings.
"When you have a vegan meal, focus on pairing with the most prominent flavors. For example, if you have spaghetti with a tomato sauce, focus on the acidic tomato flavors. If you have a vegan bowl with veggies, tofu, and a cashew based sauce, focus on the nutty creaminess of the cashew sauces . More specifics below:
Green Vegetables (avocados, kale, broccoli, green beans)
Pair with sparkling or light whites
Root Vegetables (carrots, squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, potato)
Pair with full-bodied white, aromatic white, rosé, or light red
Alliums (garlic, onion, shallots)
Dream big here. Will pair with almost anything
Nightshades (tomato, eggplant, bell peppers)
Pair with aromatic white, rosé, medium red, full-bodied red
Beans (black, lentil, pinto, white)
Pair with sparkling, rosé, light red, medium red
Fungi (Chanterelle, Crimini, Maitake, Shitake)
Pair with full-bodied white, light red, medium red, full-bodied red
Nuts (peanut, almond, pecan, cashew)
Pair with aromatic white, rosé, or dessert wine
Fresh Herbs (basil, cilantro, dill, mint)
Pair with sparkling wine, light white, full-bodied white, aromatic white, rosé, light red
Pepper (Chipotle, Chili, Ancho)
Pair with sparkling wine, aromatic white, rosé, or medium red
When pairing, go for balance between your food and wine pairings. Pair lighter wines with lighter dishes and bolder wines with heavier dishes. Match weight with weight, intensity with intensity, and aromatics with aromatics. Also consider the meal — as Karen MacNeil, author of the classic tome The Wine Bible, said, “Pair great with great, humble with humble.” You don’t need a fancy expensive bottle of wine every week (although it would be nice!)"
Information by: Plant & Vine