Health! Vegan wine sales have grown 51 percent in two years

Vegan wine is not as common as the average wine might assume. Many major wine brands still add animal-based ingredients during the filtering and fining processes, but as more shoppers seek cruelty-free and sustainable options, vegan wine is becoming increasingly popular. Online retailer Virgin Wines has just revealed that its vegan sales rose from 1.1 million to more than 1.7 million bottles between 2019 and 2021, growing 51 percent in just two years.

Virgin Wines currently offers more than 400 vegan wines through its online platform. Realizing its rising sales, the company added additional varieties to its selections in 2020. The retailer conducted a study that revealed that 36 percent of its customers actively purchased vegan wines, motivated by animal welfare and environmental awareness.

“It’s not surprising to see such an increase in vegan wine sales,” Virgin Wines purchasing director Sophie Lord said in a statement. “Over the last decade, many more alternative methods of wine clarification have been found, allowing winemakers to move away from traditional methods that are not suitable for vegans.”

Vegan wine purchases are likely to increase in the coming years. Almost 40 percent of the participants revealed that they did not realize that some wines are not vegan. Virgin Wines noted that overall awareness of vegan and non-vegan fining agents is quite low, especially as more consumers aim to shop with sustainability in mind.

“The demand for vegan, organic and biodynamic wines has grown as more consumers adopt healthier and more environmentally conscious lifestyles,” continued Lord. “It’s great to see that the desire for high-quality vegan-friendly wines is growing so strongly and we have every reason to believe it will continue to rise, creating a huge opportunity for Virgin Wines to tap into this growing sector.”

Why is wine not vegan?

Finding a vegan wine is particularly difficult for shoppers because most wines don’t list ingredients and culture treatments on the bottle. Although most wine is plant-based, leading winemakers rely on animal-based fining agents such as isinglass, egg whites, gelatin, casein, beeswax, and more.

While the fining process is essential to winemaking to reduce bitterness, clarify wine, and improve taste and smell, animal-derived fining agents are not the only ingredients capable of achieving this. There are several vegan alternatives, including silica clay and pea jelly. Vegan wine brands opt for these cruelty-free and sustainable ingredients to complete the fining process.

Miyoko Schinner’s Wine Country 2.0

In Northern California, vegan pioneer Miyoko Schinner is reinventing the entire food and wine experience. The founder of Miyoko’s Creamery launched the “Wine Country 2.0” campaign last August to prioritize sustainability, animal welfare and health among the entire wine experience. The campaign intended to go beyond making plant-based wine: bringing together local restaurateurs, hoteliers, organizations, wineries, and artisan food developers to make wine country more sustainable than ever.

“Wine Country 2.0 is a whole new way to enjoy the world’s best wine region and premier tourist destination. We will expose visitors and locals alike to phenomenal experiences that demonstrate that caring for the planet and animals while offering the world’s best food and wine pairings are not mutually exclusive,” Schinner said at the time. “This friendly, climate-committed collaboration celebrates the diverse local tastemakers and changemakers who are leading the way in creating a more sustainable and compassionate hospitality experience that will create a model for the culinary industry across the country.

Whether it’s wine, beer, or spirits, your favorite alcoholic beverage may not be entirely vegan. Although the main ingredient may be hops, malt, yeast, barley, potatoes, cereals or grapes, alcoholic beverage companies sneak in filtering and clarifying agents of animal origin. To find vegan alcohol, there are several search engines, including Barnivore and the BevVeg app. Also, most vegan wine brands have a vegan certification on the labels, so shoppers can tell them apart from non-vegan bottles.

For more information, check out The Beet’s Ultimate Guide to Vegan Alcohol.

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