Is Wine Vegetarian?


Here is the Result of a Study By a Carolina Pyevich


Although wine usually contains only grapes, yeast and a small amount of sulphites, which are added and created during fermentation, the processing of wine introduces small amount of substances not acceptable to vegetarians and vegans. Every wine is different and no uniform formula exists for producing them. A clarifying or fining agent makes wine clear by removing proteins from it. If left in the wine, thest proteins would denature and form long molecule strands. That would result in wine to be hazy or having loose sediments floating in it. The agents eventually settle out of the wine. Different proteins serve as clarifying agents depending upon both the type of wine and the desired flavour.

Some clarifiers are animal -based products and others are earth-based. Common animal-based agents are egg white, milk, casein, gelatin and ising glass. Gelatin is derived from the skin of connective tissues of pigs and cows. Ising glass is prepared from the bladder of sturgeon fish. Bentonite, a clear earth product serves as a common fining agent. Organic protein agents are more likely to be used in the clarification of premium wines which cost more than $7 a bottle. Egg whites obtained rom chicken eggs are used for red wine clarification. Wine makers in France (Burgundy) commonly utilize egg whites in their production of expensive wines.

Large producers of wine in the United States usually implement potassium caseinate as a substitute for eggs. Whole milk and casein are two other fining agents used in some red wines. Gelatin can clarify either white or red wine or beer. Gelatin pulls suspended material out of wine and less expensive wines use this process. Ising glass is used to fine selected white wines. Germany is one of the countries that uses this technique. American wineries also use this material to clarify white wine or chardonnay. The most popular substance used to remove the proteins of domestically produced white wines is bentonite. It is used to fine most inexpensive wines. Another fining agent of concern to vegetarians is blood. Although blood of large mammals may serve as clarifier in some of the Mediterranean countries, its use is forbidden in United States and France.

Both the clarifying agents and removed proteins coagulate on the bottom of the wine tank or barrel, from where they are removed. The ingredient list will not state the clarifier because it is removed from the final product. Kosher wine is a specialty item and it is produced directly from Kosher market. These wines may be more likely to avoid the use of animal-based clarifying agents, but not all do so. The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations stated that a wine could theoretically be certified as Kosher if it contains egg whites or if the gelatin were completely removed from the final product. Paper is yet another agent sometimes used to clarify Kosher wine, as the impurities adhere to the paper.



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