Considering wine is essentially fermented grape juice it would be easy to assume that all wines would be vegan or suitable for vegans. The advent of ‘Veganuary’ and the increasing prevalence of Veganism as a philosophy and practice, particularly in influential wine markets such as the USA and UK, has led to a throng of new ‘Vegan Wines’ being released.
More often than not, the use of the traditional fining agents of the wine industry is what renders the vast majority of commercial wine as unsuitable for vegans. Egg whites or casein protein are two such agents which may be used to help bring faster clarity to wine prior to bottling.
More and more producers are choosing either to filter and fine their wines using products such as bentonite (a clay) and PVPP (a synthetic agent) where practical.
Other animal products used in wine include beeswax as a cork sealant, as well as milk-based glues used in agglomerated corks.
In reality far more wines are suitable for vegans than are readily advertised. There is a school of thought amongst the majority of top wine producers around the world than fining and filtration has a negative affect on their wines, and they choose to bottle following the natural settling of any sediments. This is a much more laborious task, particularly in small, cramped cellars. These wines will commonly have statements such as sans filtré or non-filtré on their labels.
The more vanguard natural producers around the world also bottle in this manner, however they are far more comfortable with higher amounts of sediment and cloud in the finished wine.