What’s in a wine that makes some vintages not-so-friendly for vegans?
Our wine expert Andrew Harris explains.
For thousands of years animal products have been used in the production of wine. Historically bull’s blood was used in small amounts however this was replaced by most commonly, egg whites. But why you ask? Wine, and red wines in particular have tannins and phenolic particles that can be aggressive on the palate and make the wine taste out of balance. The use of these animal derived products have aided in the process called fining.
It gets a bit technical, although the basics are easy to understand. Some fining agents are positively charged and some negatively. Once added to wine, the fining agent attracts the polar opposite and the particles become too big to stay floating in the wine. They form a sediment and over time drop to the bottom of the tank or oak barrel that they are stored in. Once the fining agent has all settled the clear wine is then racked (separated) from the sediment and the sediment is thrown out. This helps to soften the wine and create a better balance between tannins and fruit flavours.
At Brown Brothers we have been actively pursuing products that can be used to emulate the animal derived fining agents to cater to a growing number of vegan wine drinkers. Pea protein and potato starch have been the front runners and when the trials have been successful they have been used in the production of a number of our wines.