Summer is just around the corner, which means barbecues, picnics, trips to the beach, and garden parties are all in order. What do all of these summery events have in common? A good bottle of wine, sparkling, rosé, or white, preferably. Nothing against red, but that’s one indulgent treat that should be saved for the dark, winter months.
Nothing beats a chilled glass of prosecco with friends on a balmy evening when the weather is at its warmest. Luckily, there’s plenty of vegan options when it comes to wine.
Online wine membership club Winc, in particular, offers a variety of vegan options to suit any occasion. You don’t have to be a member to purchase wine from the website, however, it does offer significant discounts to those who sign up.
Isn’t All Wine Vegan?
If you’re thinking “wait, isn’t all wine vegan?,” you’re not alone. When it comes to alcoholic drinks, many people forget — or simply don’t realize — that animal products are often used in the fining process. Before fining, the wine can appear cloudy. It doesn’t affect the taste, but can put some consumers off, according to Winc.
It explains, “wine is made from grapes and yeast. So it’s vegan, right? The answer, surprisingly, is not necessarily. Several vinification techniques that have long been used to produce wine of the quality and stability that consumers expect actually incorporate animal by-products.”
According to animal rights organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), animal fining agents used in wine include fish oil, gelatin, casein, and perhaps the most well known, isinglass (aka fish bladder). There are a number of vegan-friendly options for fining agents that can be used, including plant casein, carbon, and limestone.
How Do You Know if Wine is Vegan?
It’s easier than ever before to judge whether a wine is vegan. Supermarkets and brands are becoming more transparent with their products, clearly labeling their wines so consumers are more informed about their purchases.
One company helping companies to become more transparent is BevVeg, a vegan certification-focused law firm, which specializes in alcoholic beverages. “If you see our BevVeg certification seal, you can trust BevVeg worked with those brands in the spirit of full transparency and disclosures,” founder Carissa Kranz told LIVEKINDLY last year.
If you’re still not sure, online directory Barnivore is a handy go-to, giving up to date lists of which wines, as well as beers and spirits, are vegan-friendly. “It might seem weird at first, but your favourite drink might have more than just alcohol in it,” says Barnivore. It continues, “Our 44,597 entries have been checked and often double or triple checked by the Barnivore community and are gathered here for you to enjoy.”
If you’re in need of some recommendations to start you off, here are 11 of the best vegan-friendly wines to see you through a long, happy, boozy summer.
The 11 Best Vegan Wines for Summer
1. Finke’s Sparkling Chenin Blanc
Finke’s Sparkling Chenin Blanc is not only vegan, but it’s also eco-friendly and tasty too. It’s described by Winc as being “slightly sweet” and features notes of green apple, honeysuckle, nectarine, and lemon. The company notes that popping open a bottle on a celebratory occasion will make you feel like you’re indulging in champagne, but you don’t have to endure the price tag beforehand.
Created by Winc, Finke’s Widow is a range of light California sparkling wines. The company’s co-founder Brian Smith told Cream Wine about how the range was initially created. “We ended up, through trial and error, with this vision of trying to create something new with this really vibrant, bright, fresh style of sparkling wine that’s still showing off the classic ripe California fruit,” he said.
Buy Finke’s Sparkling Chenin Blanc here.
2. The Independent Chardonnay
The Independent Chardonnay is a vegan wine created by winemaker Chris Condos. It’s a dry wine, which has tasting notes of honey, crushed pear, apricot, and crushed rock, according to Winc.
Condos — who comes from a large Greek family and has a degree in Plant Ecology, says Vinum Cellars — reportedly makes his wine in a unique fashion. Winc explains that he likes to go for a hands-off approach, which allows the fruit itself to “shine through” without too much intervention.
To try it for yourself, buy The Independent Chardonnay here.
3. Au-Delà Semillon
Semillon is a golden grape traditionally used to make wine in France, specifically, in the region in and around Bordeaux. Nowadays, Semillon can be made in most places. In this case, Au-Delà Semillon — which translates from French to “beyond Semillon” — is made in Santa Barbara County, California.
According to Winc, the wine is sweet, with notes of butterscotch and candied lemons, and will complement a fruit salad or a more flavorful Thai dish perfectly. The company explains, “retaining balanced acidity, this Semillon can still pair with savory foods that are bold, spicy, and robust.”
Buy it here.
4. Summer Water Rosé
As the name suggests, this rosé was made with the summer season in mind. This is a wine for kicking back with your friends, enjoying the light evenings, and just having a nice, relaxed time. It’s super fruity and light, with tasting notes of grapefruit, strawberry, and white peach.
“It’s perfectly crisp, lighthearted, and destined for a good time,” says Winc, adding that it can be paired with a variety of dishes, including light summer salads packed with veggies.
Buy it here.
5. Più Gioia Pinot Grigio
Più Gioia Pinot Grigio is a light bodied, dry Italian wine, with tasting notes of white peach, lemon, and wet stone. It’s ideal for serving chilled, as a complimentary beverage to vegan sushi or a veggie-packed plant-based entree.
“The highly drinkable Più Gioia translates to ‘more joy’ in Italian,” says Winc. “That’s exactly what this crowd-pleasing Pinot Grigio delivers.” It adds, “Più Gioia has complexity and a longer finish while maintaining light body and crisp acidity. This wine hits the sweet spot of easy-drinking excellence.”
Buy it here.
6. Finke’s Sparkling White Blend
Another one from Winc’s Finke’s Widow range. Like the Chenin Blanc, the “bubbly, bright, crisp” Sparkling White Blend has the taste, sophistication, and celebratory-feel of a more expensive Champagne, but it has a considerably lower price.
It has tasting notes of honeysuckle, lemon, apple, and pineapple, and has floral aromas, according to Winc. The company says, “make every day a celebration with this delightful wine.”
Buy it here.
7. Au-Delà Tocai Friulano
The Au-Delà Tocai Friulano is a white wine with a twist. According to Winc, this wine was actually made how red wine is often made, in skin contact style. Skin contact may sound strange at first, but it’s actually quite simple and harmless. It means that the skin of the grapes are present during fermentation; they would normally be removed to make a white wine. Following this, the skins can stay in contact with the juice for up to a few months.
In Tocai Friulano’s case, the wine is fermented for two weeks, and then the skins are left on for 60 days. Winc explains, “after pressing, it was aged for six months in neutral oak, and the result is a complex, robust white that has a significant amount of structure, while still maintaining brightness and drinkability.”
Buy it here
8. Zwicker White Blend
Zwicker White Blend is a light bodied, dry wine, with notes of white peach, lychee, lemon rind, and honeysuckle. Like its name implies, the beverage is a blend of two types of wine: Gewürtztraminer and Riesling. The result of this mix is a lean, vibrant wine, that complements fruit-based dishes, salads, and vegan sushi.
Buy it here.
9. Brethren of the Road Riesling
According to Winc, Brethren of the Road is a dry “pretty” wine, with fruity tasting notes including that of melon and orange zest. It was made by the winemaker Kenny Likitprakong, who works on a 10-acre vineyard in Santa Cruz.
According to Winc, it was a trip to France that inspired Likiprakong’s unique methods, which — much like Condos — are non-interventionist. The result is this dry Riesling, which Winc describes as bracing, yet lean and zesty.
Buy it here.
10. Field Theory Albariño
Albariño is traditionally a Spanish wine, however, Field Theory is made in California. According to Winc, this a vibrant citrusy beverage, with notes of lime zest and white flowers. It’s best served chilled with a salad or sushi, like many of the other white wines mentioned here.
“On the palate, it feels like a cross between a refreshing Sauvignon Blanc and a creamy Chardonnay, but its bright aromatic flavors make it unique from any other wine,” says Winc.
Buy it here.
11. Ruza Rosé
Ruza Rosé is unique; it doesn’t come in the traditional bottle-form, but instead in a handy recyclable can, making it perfect for taking down to the beach or the park for a picnic. It’s super fruity, with notes of red berries, rhubarb, and lime zest. “This [is] a cool, contemporary rosé that’s bound for adventure,” says Winc.
Buy it here.