Monday, March 14, 2011

You’re Sure You Know What’s In Your Wine/Beer?

You’re Sure You Know What’s In Your Wine/Beer?

My love of wine combined with my need to know what is in anything I consume caused me to do a little investigative work one day and whether you are a vegan, following a casein free diet, simply a wine lover, or all three as I am – this one might surprise you.

It’s call “wine fining” and the purpose is simply to remove any sediment in order to provide a clear wine. And so fining agents are put into the barrel and they literally are magnetic to sediments, sticking to them and carrying them to the bottom of the barrel as they settle and voila, you and I have a beautiful unclouded color to examine as we happily hold our glass up.

What may be used as a fining agent?

  • Casein (milk protein)
  • Gelatin (long list of animal horrors such as tissues from horses and pigs)
  • Albumen (egg whites)
  • Isinglass (sturgeon bladder)
  • PVPP (polyvinyl-polypyrrolidone; long-term effects on body unknown)
  • Animal blood (illegal in France and the United States, but may be used in other countries)

These aren’t bad:

  • Bentonite (clay, often used in final process and removes most of the trace amounts of the above)
  • Carbon (charcoal)
  • Diatomaceous Earth (siliceous sedimentary rock)
  • Sparkolloid (alginic acid extracted from marine brown algae)
The fact is wine fining is just a method to speed up the process. Allowing the wine to sit in the barrel for a certain period of time would allow the sediment to fall naturally – but that does take time and that means slower production.
The good news: there are vineyards that use vegan products to make their wine; you just need to do some checking with specific wines/labels (note that organic wines are only referring to pesticides/herbicides; organic does not mean the exclusion of animal products).

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