The Green Movement in Wine: Exploring Sustainable Wine Production and the Surprising Non-Vegan Elements

Bushwick Bites. Image of wine glass with red wine in it. The Unexpected Non-Vegan Element in Wine: Unveiling the Eco-Friendly Trend of Sustainable Wine Production

As awareness of environmental responsibility grows, consumers are increasingly embracing green alternatives, including eco-friendly beverages. Sustainable wine is emerging as a popular choice in this trend, characterized by eco-conscious practices that lower environmental impact, encourage social responsibility, and guarantee economic sustainability for the future. This article delves into the eco-friendly movement of sustainable wine production, and the surprising fact that some wines may not be vegan.

Sustainable wine production frequently utilizes organic or biodynamic farming methods. These approaches focus on soil health and fertility, minimize synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, and support biodiversity. Not only can they boost the wellbeing of vineyard workers, but they also positively affect local ecosystems.

Water conservation is another integral aspect of sustainable wine production. Techniques such as drip irrigation deliver water right to the vine roots, cutting back on water wastage. Moreover, wineries might use recycled or rainwater for irrigation, lessening the dependence on freshwater sources.

Energy conservation is also a priority for sustainable wineries. This could involve tapping into renewable energy sources like solar or wind power, or integrating energy-efficient technologies into winemaking processes. Such measures decrease the winery’s carbon footprint and contribute to mitigating climate change effects.

Sustainable wine production further extends to innovative packaging. Numerous wineries are now employing lightweight, eco-friendly bottles made from recycled materials, or switching to alternative packaging like bag-in-box or cans, which have a smaller environmental footprint.

In the neighborhood of Bushwick, several businesses are adopting sustainable wine production. For instance, Brooklyn Wine Exchange, a winery, offers a range of organic and biodynamic wines, as well as wines produced via sustainable farming practices.

Far from a passing fad, sustainable wine is a movement towards a greener and more responsible wine industry. By endorsing sustainable wineries and vineyards, we can help lessen our environmental impact, promote social responsibility, and ensure a prosperous wine industry for future generations.

However, a puzzling question arises: how can wine, fundamentally made from grapes, be non-vegan? The answer lies in the fining process, employed to purify the wine.

The fining process involves adding a substance to the wine that binds to suspended particles and undesirable elements like proteins, tartrates, tannins, and phenolics. These agents aggregate them, making them easier to eliminate. Though many winemakers have transitioned to clay-based or synthetic fining agents, traditional fining agents often originate from animals. Here are some examples:

Albumin (sourced from egg whites): Used in some wines, particularly red wines, to mellow harsh tannins and decrease astringency.

Casein (a milk protein): Frequently used in white wines to eradicate brown hues and prevent oxidation.

Gelatin (derived from animal bones and connective tissue): Utilized to remove excessive tannins and enhance clarity.

Isinglass (made from fish swim bladders): Mainly used in white and rosé wines to eliminate yeast and other solids.

Even though these substances are removed from the final product and wines don’t technically contain these animal products, they are not considered vegan due to the use of animal-derived products during production.

However, many wineries now manufacture vegan wines and label them as such. Vegan wines employ alternative fining agents like activated charcoal or bentonite (a type of clay), or they may self-clarify and stabilize over time without the addition of any fining agents.

Author: Henry Davis