If you're like me, you've probably figured wine is pretty much just made from grapes.  Take some grapes, add a little water and stir in some sunshine, maybe the occasional frost, stomp on them, stick them in a barrel, hammer a cork into it and Bob's your uncle.  One day, someone comes along, there could be a tap or some tubing involved, and the wine winds up in a bottle.  Maybe a cork comes next, could be some wax or a screw top lid, and maybe some foil.  ...Right?

The more digging I do to educate myself about wine, the more "What in the?" moments I seem to be having here in my office.  For others like myself who might not be so experienced in wine, believe it or not, some wines are made with animal products.  Here's the rub.  

Some wines are made with what they call finings.  Finings are things added while brewing wine to remove organic compounds.  This process can improve the clarity of a wine, or alter it's flavour or fragrance by helping eliminate things like, among others, proteins, polyphenols, and sulfides.  Sulfides, for example, can cause bad odours.  Most of these things, including the finings, wind up in a sediment that's tossed out once this process is finished.  Unfortunately, they can't remove all traces of the finings.  For a closer look at finings, you have to check THIS out.

What are these animal-related finings, exactly?  Not all of the below ingredients appear in every single wine, and keep in mind a lot of finings used today come from plants or other compounds.  If you have some concerns regarding your diet, really helpful information HERE from the Vegan Wine Guide.

Warning:  If you're a vegetarian, or a vegan, maybe a little sensitive, you might want to throw up a little bit in your mouth right now.

Some animal-related finings:
  • Blood ("Sangre de toro" means "bull's blood," for example).  Animal blood has been outlawed in the US and France.
  • Egg whites (or dried albumen).
  • Milk (or proteins from milk called caseins).
  • Fish swim bladders (or isinglass), typically from sturgeon.
  • Gelatin (extracted from boiled cow or pig hooves and sinews or tendons).
How to find a suitable wine without any animal products?  Check the Vegan Wine Guide or you can simply Google vegetarian or vegan wines for other directories, recommendations, and listings.  

All creatures great and small,
Photo source:  Wikipedia

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