Vegetarian Wine

What is it, and where to buy

by Ronny, who likes her quality booze

From Vegetarian London
Date: May 2008
Author: Ronny Worsey

It’s a closely guarded industry secret, but a bottle of wine can contain all kinds of nasties. Grapes are a delicate fruit, and an arsenal of toxic chemicals are employed to blast the voracious bugs and fungi which infest them. There are over 50 pesticides in use by the wine industry, which puts vineyard workers, our environment, and you the drinker at risk. However the good news is that there’s an increasing demand for organic wine, and it is now very easy to find in off-licences, supermarkets and other shops.

We veggies have an additional concern. Although gelatine is less often used as a 'fining' (clarifying) agent, the fish extract isinglass is still added to many wines, regardless of whether they’re organic, and it’s very unlikely to be listed on the label. Many vegetarian wines are cleared with beaten egg white. Organic producers can use the eggs of free-range organic chickens.

So, if you want to be sure that your wine is both free from toxic chemicals and cleared with clay rather than animal products, it’s best to get it from a health food shop. Some of the bigger shops have an entire wine aisle! Most of them, along with many vegetarian restaurants, source their wines from two companies, Vintage Roots and Vinceremos. Both have excellent catalogues listing a wide range of red, white, rosé and sparkling wines from all over the world, and they’re happy to sell to the public by the bottle or the case, so why not treat yourself? There’s also a new company called Festival Wines.

Check the Drink & Eat Veggie index of Vegetarian London for restaurants that have a good wine list. The exclusively vegetarian places are your best bet.

Many of the wholefood stores listed in Vegetarian Guides sell wine and if so we tell you. Among supermarkets, the Co-op deserve a kudos mention for leading the way in labelling all of their wines as vegan, vegetarian, neither, contains sulphites etc. Other supermarkets like Sainsburys and Tesco were forced to follow their example as a result of customer pressure, though they haven't done such a good job of it. It is basically now very easy to find vegan wine in supermarket chains (though not so easy when eating out in restaurants).

For mail order catalogues of vegetarian and vegan wine, beer, ale, cider, perry and spirits, or a trade price list if you run a restaurant, these are your people:

Vegetarian Booze online

Ronny is an experienced cook and a bit of a booze fan. Her excellent vegan cookbooks The Cake Scoffer, The Salad Scoffer, The (all day) Breakfast Scoffer and The Return of the Cake Scoffer are all available from the Vegetarian Guides website.

Copyright Vegetarian Guides and Ronny Worsey