Are all wines vegetarian or vegan?

How to Drink Better: Some producers say their wines have offending substances removed, but as minuscule amounts may remain, strict vegans and vegetarians disagree

Some wines are neither vegetarian nor vegan because of materials used in the fining process.

What is fining?

Fining means adding substances that clarify and stabilise the wine, removing elements that might make the wine hazy or affect its flavour and aroma. The fining agent binds to tiny molecules known as colloids, making them larger. These are then removed from the wine.

What agents are used in fining?

Non-vegetarian agents used include gelatin (made from animal parts), and isinglass (made from fish bladders). Non-vegan agents used include egg whites and casein (made from dairy). Other common agents used include bentonite (a clay) and carbon (charcoal), both of which are vegan. As the particles are removed, some producers argue that their wines are vegan thereby vegetarian. However, as minuscule amounts may be left, strict vegans and vegetarians disagree.

Are all wines fined?

Some producers don’t fine their wines, believing the process removes flavour, but there is always a danger the wines will spoil later.


Why doesn’t it say vegan on the label?

More and more producers are using bentonite and other vegan products to fine their wine, so many wines are in fact vegan. An increasing number of wines, especially those in supermarkets, will have a symbol on the back label, but many do not, even though they may actually be vegan.

What happens to all the unwanted egg yolks?

You will find that traditional wine-producing centres such as Jerez and Oporto have a fine selection of desserts and pastries based on egg yolks, and in Bordeaux they are used to make the traditional canelé.

Is fining the same as filtering?

No. Fining removes tiny molecules and is essentially a chemical process. Some wine is pushed through filter pads which removes larger particles.