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Yes and no. Wine makers often use animal-derived products to put a final polish on wine. They’re called fining agents, and vegetarians are okay with most of these, but vegans are not. Fining agents remove proteins and other suspended materials from wine. Many of these fining agents are earth-based, such as bentonite, a silica clay, but some are animal-based. They include egg whites to “brighten” red wines; a milk protein called casein to make wine taste softer; beef-based gelatin to remove any bitterness; and sturgeon-derived isinglass, which is a clarifier. Most types of fining agents fall to the bottom of wine and are removed before bottling.
Wine makers aren’t required to list on their labels which, if any, fining agents were used.So to learn if your favorite vintage has been treated with them, contact the wine maker. A few companies produce vegan wines, including Frey Vineyards (800.760.3739) and Hallcrest Vineyards (800.211.6630). Kosher-certified wines that are American-made can also be animal-free.