You could be forgiven for not knowing that vegan wine, vegetarian wine and other types of wine are very different. After all, aren't all wines free of animal products?
No, they're not -- almost all commercially available wines use some kind of product to make the wine clear instead of cloudy by removing sediments in the wine. These clarifying agents are called finings; bentonite clays and other clay products are one source of finings.
But many other types of finings are derived from animals: gelatin, egg albumen, casein from milk and isinglass from fish bladders are used in the fining process. Even ox blood has been frequently used as a fining, though that's rarer now because of concerns over the disease known as bovine spongiform encephalitis, commonly called BSE or "mad cow disease."
Many of these products are removed after the fining process ends, but vegans and many vegetarians would prefer to drink vegan wines that use no animal products whatsoever in the winemaking process. These wineries generally use some kind of clay as a fining agent.
Where to Find Good Vegan Wine
There are hundreds of wineries worldwide that claim to make only vegan wine, though there's no certification process that can validate their claims. If you're looking for a good vegan wine, consult the listings at Barnivore. Some of the more widely recognized vegan wine makers include Girasole Vineyards, Yellowtail, Four Chimneys and Frey Vineyards.
When shopping for a vegan wine, remember that a vegan wine is not necessarily an organic wine; those are two distinct types of wine -- though some organic wines are also vegan. The best way to know for sure is to consult the listings at Barnivore, or contact the winery directly.