The Rise of Vegan Wine & Plant-Based Brands You Need to Try
As the popularity of veganism continues to soar, the wine industry has been adapting to changing consumer demands. From animal-based fining agents to environmentally conscious vineyards, winemakers recognize the need to produce vegan-friendly and plant-based wines. Let’s explore the rise of vegan wine and introduce you to some of the best plant-based wine brands you need to try on the market.
The Rise of Veganism
There has been a remarkable rise in the number of people adopting a vegan lifestyle. According to a GlobalData report, the market value of global meat substitutes reached $7 billion in 2021, growing by 8.82% from 2017-2021. This trend is not limited to the US, as the demand for plant-based products is rising worldwide.
Why people are shifting to veganism.
There are several reasons why veganism is gaining popularity:
- Environmental concerns: More people are becoming aware of the consequence of animal agriculture on the environment, including deforestation, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.
- Health benefits: A plant-based diet has been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
- Animal welfare: The treatment of animals in the food industry has been a concern for many people, and veganism offers a way to avoid contributing to this issue.
- Accessibility: Grocery stores and restaurants now offer vegan alternatives, making it easier for people to adopt a vegan lifestyle.
Vegan Wine vs. Normal Wine
Calling all wines vegan is wrong because normal wines use animal-derived products during production. For example, egg whites, gelatin, and isinglass or fish bladder protein are used to clarify and stabilize wines. The good news is vegan wines exist. Moreover, it is becoming more widely available as winemakers respond to the growing demand for plant-based products.
What is Vegan Wine?
Vegan wine is produced without animal products or byproducts, making it suitable for people who follow a vegan diet or lifestyle. The production of vegan wine involves using plant-based fining agents, such as pea protein, bentonite clay, and activated charcoal, to clarify the wine. These agents are as effective as animal-derived products but don't compromise the wine's taste or quality.
How Vegan Wine is Made
Winemakers are responding to the high demand for plant-based products and finding innovative ways to produce vegan-friendly wines. There are a few alternative methods that they use:
- Using clay-based fining agents like bentonite.
- Allowing the wine to naturally settle and clarify over time.
- Using filtration techniques to remove any sediment or impurities.
These methods may take longer or require more specialized equipment, but they allow winemakers to create fine vegan wines without using animal products.
Labeling of Vegan Wines
While some certifications are available for vegan products, such as the Vegan Society's sunflower logo or the European Vegetarian Union's V-label, these certifications only cover what happens after the grapes are harvested. This means the wine can be made using animal products in the winemaking process and still be labeled vegan.
Choose unfined wines or read the label carefully to know if a wine is vegan. You can also research the winery and its winemaking practices. Many wineries will include information on their website about whether their wines are vegan-friendly, or you can contact them directly.
Shifting to Plant-Based Winemaking
One of the biggest challenges winemakers faces is finding suitable plant-based alternatives that can effectively clarify the wine without affecting its taste or aroma. Additionally, plant-based fining agents can be more expensive than animal-derived ones, which can increase the cost of production. However, winemakers are overcoming these challenges by experimenting with different plant-based alternatives and adjusting their production processes.
Benefits of Vegan Wine Making
Despite the challenges, there are great benefits to vegan winemaking.
- It allows winemakers to cater to the growing market of plant-based products.
- Vegan winemaking is more sustainable and ethical, reducing environmental impact and promoting animal welfare.
- It can lead to a broader range of flavor profiles.
Vegan Wine Brands to Try
What wines are vegan, and which is the best plant-based wine brand to buy? Here are some top plant-based wine brands in the market:
1. Vegan Red Wine
- Chateau Maris – Recognized as one of the most environment-friendly wineries in the world, this French winery offers a range of organic, biodynamic, and vegan-friendly reds, like Pinot Noir.
- Bodega Catena Zapata – Since 2021, this Argentinian winery has produced various vegan-friendly red wines, including their Catena Malbec.
- Frey Vineyards - This award-winning vineyard in California has a list of vegan-friendly and gluten-free wines. Their wines are produced without chemicals, preservatives, or animal-based fining agents.
2. Vegan White Wine
- Domaine Carneros – You can visit this sustainable California winery and sample their vegan-friendly white wines, including Chardonnay and Pinot Clair.
- Little Black Dress – Though they use organic egg whites on their reds, this California wine brand does not use animal products in their white wines.
- Dr. Loosen - This German winery uses bentonite in its wines, including Riesling and Pinot Blanc.
3. Vegan Rosé Wine
- Domaine Ott - This French wine brand has elegant, complex vegan-friendly rosé wines, including Château de Selle.
- Elephant in the Room – This winery from Australia uses sustainably-sourced grapes and follows strict vegan ethics. Try their Bertaine Rosé and Le Chat Noir Rosé.
- Yes, Way Rosé – This female-founded wine brand brings the taste of the South of France in their vegan-friendly and gluten-free rosé wines, including Bubbles and Mini Bubbles.
4. Vegan Sparkling Wine
- Lanson - This charming winery in France proudly makes rare and exceptional wines, like their vegan-friendly champagne Black Label Brut.
- Moët & Chandon - This French winery adapts to the latest advances in sustainability, producing plant-based wines, including their Moët Champagne.
- Veuve Clicquot - Veuve Clicquot Champagne and Ponsardin Champagne are vegan-friendly, produced in one of the finest champagne vineyards in France.
Whatever vegan wine you try, always store and serve it at the right temperature. Invest in a high-quality wine fridge or cooler. Choose energy-efficient wine storage units to enjoy plant-based wine while protecting the environment.
How Vegan Wine Tastes
When tasting vegan wine, paying attention to its acidity, tannins, and finish is essential. Acidity gives the wine crispness and freshness, while tannins provide structure and texture. The finish is the aftertaste that lingers in your mouth after you swallow the wine.
Vegan wine tastes just like conventional wine. The only difference is that it's made without animal products. Vegan wines can be light, medium, or full-bodied, depending on the type of grape and winemaking techniques.
Vegan wines can also have different aromas and flavor notes, such as fruit, floral, spice, or earthy undertones.
Vegan Wine Food Pairing
Pairing food with vegan wine is like pairing food with conventional wine. You want to balance the flavors and textures of the wine and the food. Here are some general guidelines for pairing vegan wine with food:
- White vegan wines go well with light dishes such as salads, plant-based seafood, and white meat.
- Vegan red wines is great with hearty pasta, pizza, and plant-based red meat.
- Dry vegan wines pair well with salty and savory dishes, while sweet vegan wines pair well with spicy and fruity dishes.
- Sparkling vegan is best paired with appetizers, desserts, and festive occasions.
Here are some vegan wine and food pairing ideas to try from Chef Luca Ponzanelli:
Whether you are a vegan or simply looking for a healthier and more sustainable option, delectable vegan wines are available in the market. Remember that vegan wines don't mean it's automatically organic or sustainably produced. You can research the brand or contact them to make sure. By supporting winemakers in the rise of vegan wines and buying plant-based wine brands, you can help create a more compassionate and environmentally friendly future for the wine industry and beyond.
What vegan wine brand have you tried so far? Share your experience in the comments!