Grape Tips Thursday – October 29, 2015: Vegan vs. Vegetarian Wine: What Are The Differences?

This Week In Wine 101: The Differences Between Vegan vs. Vegetarian Wine

Are there wines that cater to the Vegan and Vegetarian markets? And if so, what are the wines differences? When you think about wine and how it was produced, do you think, “Hey I wonder what type of ingredients came from an animal and went into the process of producing this particular wine?” It wouldn’t surprise me if you said, no, unless you were a vegetarian or vegan. The truth is there are wines suitable for vegan diets as well as vegetarian diets. So, what’s the difference between the two?


Vegan Wine

Vegan wines are made almost the same as most wines, the grape varietals are picked, de-stemmed, crushed, fermented and converted into alcohol, however they refrain from using any ingredients that were derived from animals. Like most wines, vegetarian wines undergo the same steps but the grapes and wines are produced without the use of any additives that required the slaughtering of animals.

Contrary to popular belief, vis-à-vis wines that are considered “suitable for vegan or vegetarians,” not all wines accommodate these lifestyles. For instance, did you know many wines utilize animal products to help process the grapes into wine? These ingredients are usually used to filter or remove unwanted solids like, stems, pips, grape skins, and yeast. Sometimes these products are also used to adjust the level of tannins in the wine, resulting in improved flavors and a better color opacity of color, combining to make a more presentable wine.

Some common animal ingredients used to make wine are, egg whites, albumin (a form of protein), isinglass (sturgeon fish bladders), the extract from cow or pig hooves, and caseins (a protein found in milk). At one point animal blood was used as an added ingredient, though this is no longer the case, especially after the whole “Mad Cow Disease” hit. Can we get a Hallelujah! The truth is animal products or ingredients are not necessarily needed in order to produce great tasting wine. Also you won’t find these ingredients listed on the bottle.

There are other products used to do the same job as the ingredients derived from animals listed above. Some producers of vegan wine go all-natural, opting not to use additives, while some may use bentonite (an absorbent clay used as a finishing substance), which is often used to make kosher wines as well. Kaolin is another type of clay used for the same purpose. Of course you won’t find these ingredients advertised on the back of the bottle either.


Vegetarian Wine

As for vegetarian wines, sometimes during the process of making wine, winemakers will use diary products or eggs to assist them in the process of removing unwanted particles of yeast and other leftover solids from the wine. For individuals who are vegetarian, the use of such products is considered okay, but this is not suitable for vegan wines.

So what do vegan and vegetarian wines taste like? They taste like wine! Delicious wine and comes from all over the world. Vegan and vegetarian wines offer a scope of grape varietals to choose from as well. There are no limitations here. Plus, there are loads of vegan and vegetarian wines available at your local grocery store, liquor store and wine shop. You can also contact vineyards and wineries known for making these wines and ask to place orders online. Unfortunately, not all wines are labeled as vegan or vegetarian approved, often times you’re left to ask and look for labeling on the bottle.


Here is a list of countries that offer Vegan & Vegetarian wine:








New Zealand

South Africa


United States


The following list are online retailers that sale vegan wine:

China Bend Winery –

Fitzpatrick Winery –

Frey Winery –

Organic Vintners –

Organic Wine Company –

Wrights Vineyard and Winery –


Now that you’re familiar with the requirements for both vegan and vegetarian wines you can begin shopping for and trying the grapes that are bottled as such. You also know what ingredients go into the process of producing non-vegan/non-vegetarian wines. If you are vegan or vegetarian or have friends that are, look for special labeling that may indicate whether or not the wine is vegan or vegetarian approved. Know that kosher wines are also vegan approved due to Kashrut (Jewish Dietary Law), which prohibits the use of animal products while producing grapes into wine. Be sure to look into the vegan and vegetarian wines offered by different countries too. Enjoy!

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