Aren't All Wines Vegan?
At Pale Fox, we are very proud that our prosecco is 100% plant-based. It is one of our core principles. We hear you ask ‘What is a vegan wine?’ and ‘Surely all wines are vegan?’ Simply - no, a lot aren’t plant-based. This may seem counter-intuitive to you so we will explain why…
Sometimes you will see wine producers using the term MOG or ‘Material Other than Grapes’. To put it bluntly, mechanical grape harvesters pick up more than just grapes. A lot of extra matter can get into the harvested yield such as leaves, slugs and bugs. This can result in your wine being potentially contaminated by these creatures and consequently not being strictly plant-based. Our grapes are carefully hand-picked in the Valley of the Foxes, rather than with machinery, guaranteeing that no small animals will be picked up with our produce.
The Fining Process
However, the main reason that a wine is not classed as vegan or even vegetarian-friendly is about how the wine is clarified, a process called ‘fining’. Fining comes after fermentation; where the natural sugars of the grapes are converted into alcohol. During the fermentation process, tiny molecules such as proteins, tannins, tartrates and phenolics will make the wine look hazy. Although these molecules are all natural and in no way harmful to you, producers add fining agents to help clarify your wine. They work by attracting the unwanted proteins around them, resulting in fewer but larger particles which can easily be removed.
These fining agents are where the problem lies. For red wines, the fining agent has historically been albumin (containing egg whites), while for white wine it has been casein (containing milk proteins). Other agents, such as gelatine (made from animal bone marrow) and isinglass (a fish bladder protein) are also sometimes used. Fining with casein and albumin is usually accepted by vegetarians but is off-limits for vegans as traces of the fining agent can be absorbed into the wine.
What do we do differently? We only use a clay-based fining agent, bentonite, for Pale Fox. Therefore, whether you identify as vegan or not, your conscious can be as clear as your prosecco.