More than 3% of the French population is vegetarian. Less but increasingly numerous, vegans have an even more restricted diet. They only eat food from the plant world – they excluded honey, eggs or milk, for example. In France we make the difference between vegans by diet (“végétaliens“) and vegans by their way of life (“véganes“). The latter’s lifestyle is getting more and more popular and committing against animal maltreatment now involves clothing, cosmetics or animal-friendly leisure. Thus, Winalist wanted to answer the following question : can vegetarians and vegans find a suitable wine for them?
McDonald’s already adapted its products to vegetarians’ taste with its veggie burger in Belgium for instance, so why could the wine industry in France not adapt too? Vegans have a growing influence on the French society nowadays. They even have a dedicated fair, “VeggieWorld” that gathered 7000 visitors in Paris last Spring and is expected to host more people October 15th to 17th. But what about the traditional French beverage? Can we say that wine is a vegetarian product ? A vegan product?
Animal products in wine
Although wine comes from a fruit’s fermentation, it’s not necessarily a vegetarian product. During its fining, animal products are regularly used. Wine fining is a step of winemaking process, before filtering and bottling, which aims to remove the light particles that are naturally present in raw wines, to improve the final texture of the beverage. The fining agents cluster the particules, but are often of animal origin: gelatin (obtained from cattle or fish’s skin and bones), casein (a milk protein), eggwhite, and for wines bottled before 1997, winemakers were even using blood. However, mineral alternatives can be found, such as bentonite (derived from clay), or vegetable agents derived from wheat, pea or soy.
How to know? Logos and regulation.
Since 2012 in France, labels on wine bottles must indicate the presence of milk or eggwhite because some people are allergic to it. Though there is no mandatory indication for animal fining agents. Until late 2017, there was no “Vegan” official logo (or “label” in French). But with the labels again, the regulation has its limits.
The Vegan certification: after the United States, England, Switzerland and Italy, the new vegan label “EVE” (Expertise Vegan Europe), was created by the VEGAN FRANCE network. When featured on a bottle, this label guarantees the absence of animal substance or that no test were conducted on animals to make the product. However, as the term “vegan” is not protected by law, nor regulated in any country, some manufacturers can legally create their own vegan logo in order to enhance their products. Because of some unethical marketing behaviors, customers have to be careful and rely on the following official logos and websites.
What about winemakers? The wine of the EVE vegan label recipients meet the following requirements:
– No input of animal origin in the winemaking process.
– No substances of animal origin in the packaging (especially in the types of glue).
– Product and substances used haven’t been tested on animals.
– No PVPP (Polyvinylpyrrolidone) in the wine, as already required by the Official European Organic label.
Veganism is a way of life that’s settleing within the French population. According to Vegan France, the vegan certification will be a significant lever on wine sales in France starting in 2018. It is already an export asset, particularly in the United States, where 13 million people are vegetarians, and in England and Germany where vegies already represent 6% of the population.
France is catching up with Vegan wines
Which websites to check? France is lagging behind its neighbors but the vegan craze started in 2016 has brought some trustworthy blogs, web directories and e-commerce platforms!
The vegan web reference in France has been VEGAN FRANCE since 2013. They created Vinvégétalien.com to list French wines and spirits that are certified vegan. Such wines can also be found on meilleursvinsbio.com (literraly “best organic wines”) on which you can directly order the beverages.
The international reference is Barnivore.com, a website that allows you to search for the name of a beer, a wine or a liquor among its 34,494 registered trademarks, and will tell you if the alcohol is vegan (in green on the image) or not (in red).
What are the alternatives to vegan wines? If your wine merchant does not sell vegan wine, vegetarians might want to go for natural or kosher wine. Indeed, an organic wine does not exclude a fining process with components of animal origin, unlike kosher wine. Natural wines are also a good option because they are neither fined or filtered. However, there is no guarantee concerning the packaging and its substances tested or not on animals, so vegans (by lifestyle) will have to order online.
More than a trend, veganism has become a way of life in France and some winegrowers have already followed the movement, such as Château Dauzac (from the Margaux vineyard, in the Bordeaux wine region) since its 2016 vintage, or the Buzet cooperative in Bordeaux again, since 2014. Vegan certification opens up new markets, it also reflects a true ecological commitment in the vineyards and the cellars.
Also published on Medium.