Good morning wine lovers!

Last week I introduced Thommy Witteck to you (If you missed that article, here is the link for you: http://veganwho.de/thommy-witteck-interview). He is a well-known wine expert and he promised to write us some information about vegan wines soon. He is a man of his words! One week later and I already have his article in my Inbox. :)

How much do you know about vegan wines? I thought I knew a lot already… but apparently I did not! Thommy’s article is really informative and I learned many new things about wines.

I must admit, that his article made me a bit sad too, because I realised, that some of the wines that I used to drink, are not really vegan :/ But that’s what happens to all of us, especially when you start out as a brand new vegan …you make mistakes and it’s no good to beat yourself up over it. Learn from your mistake and do it better the next time! And hey, new vegans! Don’t let yourself get dragged down, if you get yelled at from some older vegans when you do a mistake! They tend to forget, that they were beginner vegans once too …

By the way, you can always write me any of your concerns – I won’t yell :)

But enough of my vegan lifestyle tipps – here is Thommy’s vegan wine review for you:

Vegan Wine

What the heck is vegan wine? Isn’t wine made out of grapes, and is naturally vegan in the first place? Yes and no. Traditionally, during the process of “fining”, after the fermentation, protein from milk, egg or even fish is used to make residual fermentation products such as dead yeast particles react with such proteins and settle at the bottom of the casket or whatever container the wine is being fermented in. By filtration, this settled residue is being removed. Thus, the wine is made to look “fine” – its colour changes from opaque to clear and brilliant – just what every consumer demands of his wine. Almost no one would tolerate floating white flakes or a slimy, hazy look in a wine. Technically, during the process almost every particle of non-vegan protein is being removed from the wine, and the wine itself is becoming vegan again. Almost. For a vegan it doesn’t matter what comes out of it, as long as non-vegan products are used during its creation. In other words, and this may surprise some of you, traditionally no wine is vegan at all.

History

There is a slight exception to the rule, when we define “traditionally” as something that goes back to the time before the start of modern wine mass-production which started say in the nineteen sixties. Hundreds and thousands of years ago, in many cases fining with animal proteins wasn’t common practice, and wine sometimes wasn’t fined at all, leaving all the work to the process of settling and filtration alone. In many cases, this was thoroughly enough, which leads us to an interesting point. Only during mass-production, where brand-building is happening, and the consumer demands cheap, clean products made out of mediocre quality grapes at best, with exactly the same taste every time he buys a product, and time is money, fining becomes a necessity. Some of the most renowned wineries of the world now go back to pre-industrial wine production methods. Their white wine is brilliant and clear in appearance anyhow, and a slight opaque edge to a red wine is even regarded as something “natural” and appealing to many wine connaisseurs. Naturally, it may also be the case that some of the wine produced in this manner turns out to be flawed. It may turn out opaque, of odd colour, or even maltasting.

Vegan Wine “Seal”

Wine is a very conservative métier, and only a few idealists communicate their biological, biodynamic or even vegan approach to wine production. A vegan wine “seal” is being developed and tested as we speak. Of course it is completely voluntary and is only being used by biologically-working wineries. Some of you who know a little bit about German wines would be surprised how many top tier wineries produce their wines after the biodynamic hocus-pocus style of a Rudolph Steiner! Midnight rites and stuff, no kidding! Also, if you work very carefully and harvest very quality-oriented, fining is really no necessity at all. Were they to write that information on each bottle, though, bet how many leather seated Porsche racing, lifestyle-hedonism-driven customers would feel alienated and turn their back on the very winery.

Zeitgeist

Fortunately, Zeitgeist has it that 10% of all Germans eat according to a vegetarian diet, and the percentage of people purely adhering to a plant-based diet is growing rapidly. The demand for vegan wine is increasing slightly, but not at any significant rate. This certainly is not due to the quality of vegan wine: Personally, working as a German wine expert for some years now with access to practically all elitist tastings, fairs, etc., I have tasted vegan wines many times, from vintners who have been outing themselves and from those who simply didn’t need any sort of fining to ensure quality, and there was absolutely no difference to wines from the same “terroir”, the same venue or vineyard with the same microclimate and other circumstances, produced with non-vegan fining.

Vegan wine is not a matter of taste, but of a change of perspective in the mind of wine peasantry and wine-drinking clientele. No consumer would even notice. Just another frontier to a plant-based, society, so to speak.

Thommy’s Thoughts

My observation is, that vegans generally are more conscious of their diet, they naturally have to in a meat-eating society where they mindlessly put animal parts in all and every product, and tend to drink less alcohol. So they will never be an interesting target group for premium wines. From a marketing point of view, it is difficult to sell “healthy” wine – it even is illegal to put it that way. Wine is alcohol, no matter how splendidly well-tasting, and believe me it is, because I am lucky enough to taste some of the finest and most expensive wines on a daily basis, and alcohol is detrimental to our health. Health and wine do no go together well. Also, when we drink wine, we attain an indifferent state of well-being, and certainly don’t want to be reminded of all those horrible things like exploitation of nature and the genocide of near animal relatives via consumption habits. Hedonism, no matter how well deserved some alcohol-induced “time off” may be, will always be the enemy of consequent veganism. Because as long as most of the people eat animals, it will be an outsider-political thing, and in some way a sacrifice of a part of one’s comfort zone, being surrounded by the nullifying influence of the masses, demanding increased watchfulness of one’s habits -and the conviction of an ascetic.

 

Thank you Thommy for this amazing article! :)

What do you think wine lovers? Are Vegan Wines any different to “normal” wines when it comes to taste?