“Suitable for vegetarians and vegans”
It says it right on the top of mimisorganicwines.com .
I sell wines that are suitable for vegetarians and vegans -for vegetarians always, for vegans often.
It’s also written on my displays when I do an event. So it’s about time I should write something about it because I did a fair a few months ago where someone thought fit of ridiculing my sign.
“Suitable for vegetarians and vegans?!! It’s GRAPES” she brayed, trying to get a maximum audience.
“Please allow me to enlighten you” I replied. But she walked away.
So this is what I would have liked to tell her.
Yes, wine is made of grapes and grapes are indeed suitable for vegetarians and vegans but you can’t just press them and put them in a bottle. There’s a lot of work that goes on in-between harvesting the grapes and bottling the wine. That process is called vinification * and is very particular to each winemaker and it is the main reason why wines from the same grape variety or the same blend and from the same area can still end up tasting very different from one another. During this process, the wine is crushed, some yeast may be added and the grape juice ferments. What’s obtained then is far from clear and would probably not appeal to most wine drinkers so, before it is bottled, wine is often clarified or filtered to remove suspended particles. Winemakers can use a variety of substances that more or less stick the particles together to make them fall at the bottom of the vat.
These substances include: casein (a milk protein), egg white, gelatin, isinglass (a form of gelatin that comes from the air bladder of sturgeons) and bentonite (a type of clay that is very efficient at binding sediment together). Some of those fining techniques are described here in more detail : vegetarian journal (although I must point out that the article is quite old and that since then a lot of French wine makers have moved away from using animal products to clarify their wines) and also here: https://winemakermag.com/26-a-clearer-understanding-of-fining-agents
Even though the clarifying agents do not stay in the wine, one can easily understand that, apart from the bentonite, they will pose a problem to vegetarians and vegans and for them it can be a real problem to feel comfortable drinking wine when they are not sure what has been involved in its production. This is why I always indicate on the online store whether the wines are suitable for vegetarians or vegans. Of course they are also suitable for meat eaters too!
Some of them, for example the biodynamic Katz Riesling or the Katz Gewürtztraminer , will have undergone minimal clarification and therefore sediment may still be present in the bottle. It does not mean the wine is faulty; quite the contrary! There is in the wine world a new kind of snobbery consisting in only selecting those wines because of their perceived more authentic character.
So with the BBQ season nearly upon us, as well as stocking up on veggie burgers and corn sausages so that you can cater for all your friends, why not stock up on wines that everyone will be happy to drink too? Oh and did I mention they were also organic?
*For clear and concise definitions of wine making terms see The Wine Cellar Insider