What is vegan wine? The Essential Guide to Plant-Based Wine Lists

Outspoken Italian winery owner Sebastiano Cassia Castiglioni was a wine pioneer in the plant-based food movement. He turned vegetarian at the age of 15, eventually going completely vegan, and over a decade ago he extended that commitment to Querciabella, the Chianti Classico family property that is now organic and bio-based. his study.

“I don’t want to be part of the way traditional agriculture destroys the environment and mistreats animals,” he said. “We have removed all animal products from every aspect of our winemaking, including the vineyards. You don’t need them to make good wine.” As evidenced by his precious reds and whites, they gradually become more vivid, more vibrant and more intense.
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As everyone knows, the plant-based trend is exploding. In the United States, sales of vegan groceries, such as alternatives to dairy and meat, have grown 27% from 2020 to 2021, according to data from Spins, a health-focused technology company and the nonprofit Good Food Institute. The recent Food Futures report by British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s predicts that 25% of the UK population will be vegetarian or vegan by 2025.

Health concerns are one reason, eco-consciousness is another. The Vegetarian Society of Great Britain says this diet will reduce the carbon footprint of your food by up to 50%. In May, one of New York’s top restaurants, Eleven Madison Park, announced that its food menu would be almost entirely vegan.

You may wonder how wine fits into a philosophy that opposes eating meat, dairy, and eggs and tries to avoid animal exploitation. It’s just fermented grape juice, right? That’s not automatically vegetarian? Well, not necessarily.

Here’s what you need to know:

Some winemakers still use traditional “smoothing” substances of animal origin such as egg whites, gelatin, or casein (derived from milk) to clarify the liquid, reduce bitterness, or bind and extract excess tannins in red wines, leaving behind softer ones. The agents are removed prior to bottling, but their use is still a no-no.

Today, animal-free alternatives, such as bentonite, a form of clay, are more commonly used. But it’s hard to determine which wines use which, as neither the EU nor the US require the ingredients or the winemaking process to be listed on the label. Just because a wine is organic, bio, natural, or kosher doesn’t mean it’s vegan too.

One hint: If the front or back label says the wine is unrefined, then the wine is vegan-friendly — if you define vegan as simply not introducing animal products into the wine itself .

Helpfully, major UK retailers, like Bibendum, have now published the names of these vegan wines online. Barnivore thuần Vegan Wine Directory lists more than 5,000, but it’s not always up to date.

The growing interest from wine drinkers has inspired wineries to certify their wines as vegan, allowing them to place official marks on their back labels. Larry Stone, co-founder of Lingua Franca, said the top winery in Oregon did just that “because it’s important for a lot of people to verify our wines are free of animal by-products.” . (All of the people listed below are certified.)

But there is a big benefit to all of this. The definition of vegan wine is unclear, with the certification only covering what happens to the wine after the grapes are harvested. The European Vegetarian Union does not put a V-label on bottled wines that are sealed with beeswax. But it certifies producers to fertilize vines with animal manure, something that advocates more broadly vegan than merely opposed to dietary options. Traditional practices, such as burying a cow horn full of dung, are considered non-vegan.

Querciabella’s completely animal-free, vineyard-to-glass approach is not the norm for certified vegan wineries. However, America’s first all-vegan liquor subscription club and online liquor store,, which claims to ensure that their winemakers don’t use any animal by-products, from the soil to the bottle.

When in doubt, consult the winery’s website or call for more information.

Some restaurants are starting to identify vegan-friendly wines on their lists with some sort of symbol (such as a green leaf, or sometimes just the letter V or Veg). Gautier Soho in London, which switched to an all-vegan menu in June, offers only vegan wines.

Eleven Madison Park in New York, which has attracted the wide attention of plant-based menu it launched in June, doesn’t quite describe it as “vegan.” The wine list, which includes some good Bordeaux castles with egg whites, such as Château d’Armailhac, is definitely not vegetarian. Wine director Watson Brown says his goal is not to fine-tune the wine program but to deliver the highest quality wines possible; he says many people are inherently vegan but don’t necessarily have to be labeled as such. When consumers ask for a vegan wine, winemakers direct guests to regions and producers that aren’t primed for their wine.

You don’t have to learn a bunch of new rules to pair wine and vegan food. The mushroom risotto works just as well with the vegan pinot noir as it does the regular one.

There are two main principles. Since vegan foods do not include butter or tallow, wines that are low in oak, alcohol, and tannins tend to be the best fit. Texture and cooking method are both important. Roasted beets or roasted cabbage both taste great with red wine.

Nine Certified Vegetarian Wines to Enjoy


NV Champagne Leclerc-Briant Brut Reserve

This revitalized Champagne house, known for quirky innovations such as Champagne aged 60 meters below sea level and wines matured in gilded casks, has a long biological history. This non-classic cuvée is bold and intense, with aromas of delicious golden apples and fresh croissants.


2019 Babich Headwaters Organic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Pure and vibrant, this white is accompanied by notes of orange blossom, citrus and herbs. The winery insists their grapes have not been touched by fertilizers or sprays of animal origin. Serve with lettuce or asparagus.

2020 Miguel Torres Cordillera de los Andes Chardonnay

Grapes from the cool Limari Valley in northern Chile are incorporated into this delicious, spicy smoky white grape from eco-conscious producer Torres. It’s crispy and salty, with a creamy texture that pairs well with vegetarian risotto.

2017 Domaine Wachau Riesling Terrassen Federspiel

An entry-level white from one of Austria’s premier grand estates, this bright, dry Riesling exudes a fresh citrus and peachy fruity aroma. It is the leading counterpart of cauliflower curries.


2020 Chateau Sainte Marguerite Love Provence Rose

Salmon in color and delicate, this fresh, silky-textured organic cru classé is a blend of primarily grenache and cinsault. Pair it with vegan Vietnamese spring rolls or tofu sandwiches.


2019 CVNE Organic Rioja

This new wine from a historic Spanish producer has bold fruit flavors and a mineral finish, ideal with a bean or lentil chili.

2016 Querciabella Chianti Classico

This super-classic, polished Chianti from an exceptional vintage features pure tart cherry flavors and rose petal aromas. Try this with grilled vegetables, and also look for the outstanding Chianti Riserva and pricey White Batar.

2018 Lingua Franca Avni Pinot Noir

The winery’s pillars have been vegan since the second classic season, 2017. This variety is aromatic and juicy — especially good with earthy mushrooms or roasted beets.

Vietti Barbera d’Asti 2019

Packed with fruit and energy, this bright, aromatic red from a leading producer has a tomato-compatible acid. Try this with vegan pizza.

2016 Avigonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Aromatic, rich and rich, with aromas of dark berries and tobacco, this wine from a Tuscan region is also certified as a bio-wine. It is a good match for grilled eggplant. What is vegan wine? The Essential Guide to Plant-Based Wine Lists

Aila Slisco

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