I know what you’re thinking - how is wine not vegan to begin with? Like many, my knowledge of what goes into the winemaking process stops at “there’s grapes in it … right?”
Turns out, legally, up to 50 additives can be used in the production of Australian wine, many of which are highly unexpected animal products.
Egg white, gelatin (which is made by boiling down animal bones), and casein (a milk protein) are all common ingredients sometimes added to the mix to help filter wine. Called “fining” in the industry, these products help improve the clarity of wine and in some cases help remove bitterness.
Another ingredient that often raises eyebrows is isinglass. Nope, it’s not a magical weapon from Game of Thrones, it’s an ingredient made from the swim-bladder of a sturgeon fish. It’s also used as a fining agent.
How come we haven’t heard about this? Well – wine-makers aren’t legally required to tell you about any of the stuff because it’s filtered out of the wine before you drink it.
But for vegans, that’s just not good enough and the demand for wines that don’t involve animal products has increased along with the popularity of plant-based lifestyles in Australia.
In response, several of our biggest labels have ditched conventional production methods. Since 2011, all of Yalumba’s wines have been vegan-friendly. Mudgee winemakers Thistle Hill also produce unfined vegan-friendly wines, and Five Stones from Margaret River also are on-board the plant-based wine train.
The best part is that vegan wines are proving to be just as good as, or even better than, conventionally-made wines when it comes to quality.
Richard Angove, of Angove Family Winemakers in South Australia, has won awards for Angove’s vegan-friendly wines - and not just in the niche ‘organic’ category.
‘Wines that are organic and vegan are [now seen as] just as good, if not better than their non-vegan counterparts,’ he told ABC’s Lateline.
Recovering caffeine-addict and serial bruncher Eliza Murray feels most at home typing away in a cozy cafe with her re-mortgaged avocado toast nearby. When she isn't reporting on the latest Instagram-shattering glittery food trends, she can be found experimenting with new gin garnishes (hello strawberries!) or biting into an entire wheel of brie (no shame). She tweets @theothereliza