Vegan Wine – Where are you in BC?

by L Matthews on May 28, 2011

Having had a fairly productive working week I’ve decided to set myself a fun project for the weekend that involves thinking about, reading about, writing about, and, of course, drinking Wine, lots of wine, and vegan wine at that! Since moving to Canada from the UK I have now been laughed at in the liquor stores here on a number of occasions when asking about vegan wine and I have no intention of stopping asking (despite my super power being turning beetroot red at the slightest embarrassment). The more we ask, the more we make other people question things… However, as only one person in a liquor store has, so far, been remotely helpful in my quest for vegan wines in Canada I’ve decided enough is enough and I want to branch out from the one or two bottles that I inevitably fall back on when stocking up for dinner, making risotto, or generally quaffing wine.

Vegan Wine in the UK

I was blessed in the UK with a local vegan organic supermarket that allowed me to turn off the label-reading instinct and stock up on vegan wines, beers, and even whisky and port (yum!) without any stress at all. Almost all of the wines were organic, but it’s clearly a mistake to think that all organic wines are vegan. This conflation of ’causes’ makes for some confusing conversations when people assume that you’ll be happy with an organic wine when you were looking for a vegan wine, because it’s all the same right?! No, organic wine can still involve the use of blood, egg albumin, casein, chitin (made from the exoskeleton of lobster and crab), isinglass (fish), and other animal derivatives in the fining/screening process, and any alcoholic beverage may make use of honey, dairy, and other animal products for ‘flavouring’ purposes.

Vegan Wine in North America

<em>definitely not vegan wine</em>

definitely not vegan wine

It appears that many brewers and wineries in North America aren’t even aware of the alternatives to these, such as pea protein, or, hey, not needing to filter out the sediment as we’re quite capable of leaving a smidgen of silty wine residue at the bottom of the bottle aren’t we? OK, maybe filtering is a good idea then… especially if there’s a chance you might get a frog in your wine bottle like this poor lady in Scotland a while back! Hopefully the frog died happy… a small mercy.

Vegan Wine Resources

In my quest this weekend I shall be reading the fabulous Barnivore website cover to cover (I’m not awake enough yet to think of the web-analogy here, someone help me out!). There’s tons of info here, and it’s a contributor-led directory to some extent, so the more questions we vegans ask of our wine, beer, and spirit providers the more we can help fellow vegans thirsting for that alcoholic beverage. I shall also be reading my friend Nicole’s blog (EpicurVegan), where she also wrote about vegan wine recently. Thanks to my other friend Michelle for pointing me in the right direction here. Incidentally I had dinner with Michelle at the Naam last week, and was a little disappointed by the food (certainly not the company!)… hmm, maybe I should try the Naam again for breakfast some day, I hear their pancakes are good and it is right across from my apartment. Vancouver is proving to be brimming with lovely vegans and I’m so appreciative of their welcoming me into the fold. Having vegan friends really helps you to feel less like the lone weirdo ranting about casein and shellac and cochineal and why the hell do they put shellac on fruit that goes into orange juice!? Grrrrrr.

<em>serious wine testers at work</em>

serious wine testers at work

I think you can probably all appreciate that I need some wine… so, without further ado I shall be researching said subject and will be dropping in the odd bit of vegan wine-related info – perhaps even trying to match wine to new and old recipes posted on the Tasty Vegan website. I make no claims to be a sommelier, or even a true oenophile, I just like the odd glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, but due to my working class Yorkshire origins I still blush when trying not to sound like an idiot saying such fancy French nonsense – ah, my mother’d be proud… Cheers!

UPDATE! Barnivore, the wonderful website that allows you to check if your favourite tipple is vegan, has just updated in a major fashion and is now a whole heap easier to use than ever before! If heading out to a pub, club, restaurant, my advice is to look up their menu online and cross-check those drinks with Barnivore’s listings. Alternatively, have a widely available fallback for when you don’t recognise things on the menu and even if you’re just drinking the same bottle of Riesling over and over at least you know it’s tasty vegan wine and the only guilt you need worry about is turning up late to work the next day…

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Leave a Comment

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Guy May 5, 2012 at 06:47

Pacific Breeze Winery, based out of New Westminster, BC. has all vegan friendly wines. Check them out on Stewardson Way, close to the New Westminster Quay.

Leigh May 5, 2012 at 22:07

Thanks Guy!

I meant to come to the vegan wine-tasting you had recently but couldn’t make it… I heard great things though and hope you do another one soon. Did you have a handy list of your distributors or are Pacific Breeze Wines available at BC Liquor Stores?

Thanks for making vegan wines, this particularly vegan is pretty partial to a tipple (or three).


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