I am not a vegan.... But, I appreciate vegan wine and it's great to see vegan wine in the UK on the rise, and here's why:
There are many reports surrounding the awareness of vegan wines, and ensuring products across many food and drink sectors are produced as vegan-friendly. In New Zealand we're pretty stoked with our commitment to sustainability, (the most sustainable wine-producing country in the world) to organics (we hope by 2020 20% of our vineyards will be certified organic) and so naturally, we are definitely aware of the rising demand for vegan friendly wines.
Our customers and friends are becoming increasingly aware of various methods of production, how vineyards are managed, whether it be organically or biodynamically, but more importantly the level of commitment to producing wines with minimal intervention and minimal nasties or animal products. Consumer awareness and knowledge is king in our game, and we're committed to ensure we can provide the knowledge that supports our collection.
In order to be classified as a vegan-friendly wine, wines need to be filtered using various vegan fining agents, these agents filter the finished product to improve clarity in the final drop. Traditionally the likes of egg whites, casein, gelatin and isinglass (fish bladder) have been used to filter wines, now - many New Zealand vineyards are using vegan-friendly options.
We've sampled a selection of wines that have been produced with a vegan stamp of approval, and we believe the vegan examples in our New Zealand collection have been produced without affecting the final product of quality. There are several agents that can be used, most of which use bentonite, (clay based) or carbon, (activated charcoal) but there are many other elements and products that can be used with a natural fining ability including vegetables, ie; potatoes and peas. (crazy, right?)
A wine does not need to be organic to be vegan, nor is it required to be biodynamic. There are some non vegan-friendly fining agents that can be used for organic and biodynamic wines, but not every wine that is vegan is organic.
Many wine retailers are now ensuring their teams are in tune with this notion of wine production and we see the demand increasing across the UK quickly. We are certainly becoming acutely aware of understanding this factor, and we try to ensure we communicate and incorporate this into continuing our New Zealand wine conversation and beyond.
Currently we have more than 50 wines that are vegan in our shop, and we think thats no small feat - an achievement worth acknowledging as we watch this trend increase.
Vegan filtration is a choice, by each individual winemaker and vineyard - it doesn't necessarily need to be advertised by each winery on the bottle. A vegan wine may not always be organic or biodynamic, so as a customer it is up to you to ask your local wine merchant the question. There are lots of thoughts and opinions surrounding the ethos and philosophy around veganism and biodynamics, our friends at Seresin Estate have published a blog, which provides further insight, check it out here.
There are more than 500,000 vegans in the UK, (according to the Vegan Society)
New Zealand produces vegan wines at a premium quality without jeopardising the final product in bottle, we've tried and tested our range, and reckon it's top notch, so whether you're a vegan or wanting to buy for a vegan friend, or appreciate the thought that surrounds the filtration (if any) of your wine - check out our selection here.
Fellow kiwi and friend Chantelle Nicholson, of Tredwells Restaurant in London has just released her first cook-book, dedicated to vegan plant-based eating, we're on board, you should be too! Buy her book here.
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Skin contact - this is the amount of time that the skins of the grapes stay in contact with their juice! How long do they stay on for? Well it completely depends...