Vegetarian wines are becoming increasingly common as vegetarian and vegan lifestyles grow in popularity. At House of Townend, we have a wide range of vegetarian wines available. We have made great efforts to handpick some of the top vegetarian wines from regions all over the world, offering wonderful wine experiences for vegetarians.
The vegetarian diet omits animal flesh but permits dairy and eggs. As such, many wines are unsuitable for those following a vegetarian diet due to their fining processes.
It may be surprising to discover that not all wine is vegetarian. Although there are no animal-derived ingredients in the finished product, some winemaking methods utilise gelatin (derived from animal bones and hides), isinglass (derived from fish bladders) and chitosan (derived from crustacean shells). Other common fining agents include milk and egg whites.
Interestingly, the traditional winemaking process is far more vegetarian-friendly than the modern method that has developed due to the need for faster production.
The traditional process involves settling and fermenting pressed grape juice in a barrel for an extended period of time. Eventually, any residual solids will sink and settle at the bottom – the wine is then bottled with no filtering or fining.
However, faster, modern methods speed this clarifying process up via fining. A fining agent, usually an animal or animal-derived product is added to the wine to bind together the unwanted solids. The entirety of the liquid is then filtered, removing the unwanted substances and the fining agents themselves.
The fining process is also used to reduce cloudiness, improve flavour and colour and stabilise the wine. It is this process that makes a wine non-vegetarian, not the filtration process.
Vegetarian wines use veggie-friendly materials such as clay or charcoal, as well as alternative processes to fine the wine without the need for animal products.
Vegetarian and vegan-friendly fining agents are plant-based. Common variants include poly-vinyl-poly-pyrrolidone (PVPP), a plastic substance, and bentonite, a purified clay. Limestone, silica gel and carbon are other animal-friendly alternatives.
None of our vegetarian wines use animal-derived products as fining agents.
The best way to identify a vegetarian wine is to visit the vegetarian collection-specific page of a wine provider. We can assure you that all the wines on this page are vegetarian-friendly.
Another identifying factor is a wine’s label. Some winemakers choose to add the vegetarian or vegan symbol to their labels or the identifiers ‘suitable for vegetarians’ or ‘un-fined’.
The Food Standards Agency has stringent labelling laws around wine content transparency when it comes to potential allergens. Both egg and milk proteins are recognised allergens, so if they are detectable within the final products at a concentration greater than 0.25mg per litre, they must feature on the label.
However, there is no law around including non-allergen fining agents, such as gelatin, in labelling. Therefore, it is always safer to choose a vegetarian or vegan wine.
The production of vegetarian and vegan wines marks an intersection between wine production and ethical practices. The use of animal-derived products such as fining agents can negatively impact the environment, whereas the organic and biodynamic practices used to make vegan wine are kinder to our planet.
These practices are far more sustainable than those including animalderived products. Plant-based fining agents also produce less waste and pollution.
In choosing a wine totally free of animal-derived products, you can also be certain that it is ethical and cruelty-free, totally disconnected from any form of animal abuse or animal testing.
If you are considering choosing a vegetarian wine, you might have some further questions. We have collated some frequently asked questions to help put your concerns to rest.
Vegetarian wine generally does not taste different from nonvegetarian wine. Regardless of the fining agent used, whether gelatin, egg whites or charcoal, the finished product will taste the same. However, if a wine is completely unfiltered or un-fined, it may taste slightly different. Wine that has not been through the fining process often tastes stronger and carries a stronger aroma and complexity.
No, the quality of vegetarian wines is not inherently lower. The quality of wine depends on various factors such as grape quality, winemaking skills and the ageing process, not whether it is vegetarian.
The price of vegetarian wine varies just like non-vegetarian wine. It is influenced by factors like grape variety, region, brand and the ageing process. You can find both affordable and premium vegetarian wines.
Look for wines labelled as ‘vegetarian-friendly’ or ‘suitable for vegetarians.’ Additionally, you can research the winery's production methods, as some winemakers choose to provide this information on their websites or labels.
Not necessarily. While organic wines are made from organic grapes, they may still use non-vegetarian fining agents. You should check the label or contact the producer to confirm if it is vegetarian.
You can find vegetarian wine in most wine shops and online retailers. Be sure to ask for assistance or check labels when in doubt.
Yes, there is a difference. Vegan wines are also free from animalderived fining agents, but they go a step further by excluding any animal products, including those used in the winemaking process, like honey, certain yeasts, eggs and milk. Vegetarian wines are versatile and suitable for a range of occasions and flavour palettes.
Vegetarian wines pair well with a range of vegetarian dishes. If you are thinking of throwing a dinner party, here are our picks of the best vegetarian wine pairings.
Pair with: goat cheese and spinach salad, asparagus risotto, vegetable sushi rolls or grilled artichokes with a lemon-dill dipping sauce.
Why? The crisp acidity and herbal notes of Sauvignon Blanc pair well with green, herbaceous and tangy flavours. T
Pair with: creamy mushroom pasta, roasted butternut squash soup, vegetable gratin, or grilled vegetable and cheese panini.
Why? Chardonnay's buttery texture and flavours of vanilla and oak complement rich and creamy vegetarian dishes.
Pair with: wild mushroom risotto, truffle mac and cheese, roasted beet salad with goat cheese or a vegetarian pizza with mushrooms and herbs.
Why? Pinot Noir's lighter body, red fruit flavours and earthy notes work well with a variety of vegetarian options, especially those featuring mushrooms.
Try: Lautarul Pinot Noir.
Pair with: eggplant parmesan, vegetable lasagna, lentil stew or grilled portobello mushrooms with a balsamic glaze.
Why? Merlot's soft tannins and plum and cherry flavours complement the richness and depth of many vegetarian dishes.
Try: Tonada Merlot.
Pair with: caprese salad with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella, strawberry and spinach salad, a Mediterranean mezze platter or vegetarian sushi rolls with avocado.
Why? Rosé's light and refreshing nature complements a wide range of fresh and vibrant vegetarian options.
Pair with: mushroom and truffle risotto, vegetable tempura, cheese and fruit platters or vegetarian sushi with a citrusy ponzu sauce.
Why? The effervescence and crispness of sparkling wine can cut through the richness of dishes and enhance their flavours.
Try: Barocco Prosecco.
Our vegetarian wine collection is specially curated and all our vegetarian-friendly wines lend themselves to sipping, sharing and pairing.
Vegetarian wines are not only a viable option but are truly tasty, luxurious and cruelty-free. Whether you are looking to improve your own diet or cater to everyone at a dinner party, our curated collection of vegetarian wines has something for all flavour palettes and food pairings.
We also stock vegan wines, which do not include eggs or dairy, perfect if you are shopping for a vegan friend or following a vegan diet. Remember to explore your options and always check with the provider if you are unsure whether a wine meets your dietary needs.