One producer claims to have made the first vegan Chianti – but did you even know your wine might have traces of animal in it?
Here’s a fun fact you might not know: not all wine is vegan.
Are you completely and utterly baffled by this statement? We don’t blame you. After all, what does a drink that is supposed to be no more than fermented grape juice have to do with animal products? Well, quite a lot as it happens.
Most producers clarify their wines before they are bottled in a process known as "fining" and they have good reason for doing this: it makes the wine clearer and it lowers the risk that it might take on any unwanted flavours or aromas.
However, the products used in this fining process can create a potential hazard for vegans and vegetarians as ingredients such as bone marrow, shellfish shells, casein (milk protein), albumen (egg white) or isinglass (from the swim bladders of fish) are sometimes used.
What has made things harder is that there is no obligation for winemakers to state on their labels whether they’ve used animal products, so it’s hard to tell whether a wine has been made in this way or not – although some bottles now list their ingredients on the label, while others such as Sainsbury's include a pictogram.
The good news for all you vegans and veggies out there is that a producer, Fattoria Casabianca, in Siena, Italy, claims to have made the first certified vegan Chianti. And it’s set to go on sale this spring.
Giacorno Sensi, a winemaker at the vineyard who is also a vegetarian, said in a statement: “Our aim is to farm in an organic way, to be eco-friendly and to become a closed loop farm. Being vegan is a natural way to achieve these goals.
“We have replaced all the products and derivatives of animal origin that we previously used in the vineyards, the cellars and the packaging, that includes bottling materials like the glue and ink of the labels, the tape used to seal the boxes, the corks, etc." So that stuff is now all vegan.
“Being vegan enhances the wines because fewer chemicals are used in the cellar, and more comes out of the terroir.”
The winery, which produces 400,000 bottles a year, said that all of its wines will ultimately go vegan, starting with the 2014 harvest.
Which is good news for vegans, as it no longer means the end to that glass of plummy, spicy, cherry goodness. Hello, dear old friend Chianti.