Prosecco is the perfect drink to keep on hand to celebrate special moments, however big or small. It’s incredibly tasty, refreshing and just the thing for supping on a sofa with a takeaway, or enjoying with the girls on a night out.
But if you’re a vegan, or you’re thinking about turning vegan, there are so many things you have to be wary of to avoid accidentally consuming animal by-products.
And who would have thought Prosecco might be one of them.
So, before you pop that cork, (or pull the can ring), can vegans drink Prosecco?
Is Prosecco vegan friendly?
The short answer to the question – can vegans drink Prosecco? Is in the main, yes. The majority of Proseccos you find on the shelf of your local shop are vegan friendly.
However that’s not to say they all are.
You might be wondering, isn’t Prosecco made from grapes? And aren’t grapes a fruit? Therefore, isn’t all wine vegan friendly? Well no, because it’s not just grapes that go into making Prosecco.
Prosecco is of course made from grapes, but grapes aren’t the only things that go into creating this fabulously fizzy drink. Prosecco also contains (among other things) sugar, yeast and sulphur dioxide, all of which help break the grapes down, release their juices and ferment the resulting liquid to make Prosecco.
And once made, this delicious elixir needs to be clarified to remove any unwanted elements that might be floating in it – they’re invisible to the naked eye in case you’re wondering, but they can cause the wine to spoil.
Clarification can happen naturally with enough time (natural and biodynamic winemakers will always choose to wait), but most winemakers don’t have the luxury of time. And so to speed the action up (and guarantee the removal of anything nasty) most winemakers employ a process called fining, whereby they add a fining agent to the wine to help move things along.
And while you’re not actually drinking animal by-products (if your Prosecco isn’t labelled vegan friendly), it most certainly will have come into contact with part of an animal during the clarification process.
Fining, also known as the Charmat-Martinotti method, typically happens after the second fermentation.
The purpose of fining is to remove any unwanted material from the wine before it gets bottled. Fining is a part of the clarification process for the wine as well as helping stabilise the wine, giving it a longer life.
Fining removes certain particles in the wine i.e. colloids such as tannins, phenolics and polysaccharides – all things that might give the wine a hazy appearance, or affect its taste, colour or aroma.
Fining agents act like magnets, attracting the colloids to them, binding with them. While these colloids, these ‘unwanted bits’, are invisible to you and me, if they’re left in the wine they can cause it to spoil.
Once the fining agents have clumped enough particles to them, they are then big enough to be filtered out, clarifying the wine.
Of course not all wine needs to be fined. In the olden days wine would simply be left to sit while the proverbial dust settles. But modern day winemakers don’t have time to wait. Fining simply speeds the clarification process up.
Fining can be carried out with a range of fining agents, but the fining agent the winemaker uses will determine if your Prosecco is vegan or not.
This is because the majority of them are traditionally made from animal derived products i.e. gelatine, egg whites, milk casein, and isinglass. All of which if used, will obviously prevent the Prosecco from being marketed as vegan.
While there has been a rise in the number of non-animal derived fining agents in recent years, i.e. carbon and bentonite, not all winemakers have been quick to adopt them, because it’s not a case of simply swapping a vegan friendly fining agent in for a non-vegan friendly one. The different fining agents all do something unique to the wine:
- Isinglass (aka fish swim bladders) is used to clarify white wines, highlighting the fruity flavours.
- Egg Whites (aka albumen) help reduce astringency in red wine.
- Bentonite Clay (aka volcano ash) only clarifies white wine.
- Activated Carbon – removes colour from white wine.
- Gelatine – removes tannins.
The good news is Prosecco producers such as Quello highlight on their can that they’re vegan friendly with the internationally recognised symbol ‘V’ or the word ‘vegan’.
Quello Semi-Sparkling white wine
If you want a semi sparkling white wine that is guaranteed to be vegan, then look no further than the frivolously, feisty and fun sparkling white wine in a can – Quello.
Made from a refreshing blend of Italy’s Trebbiano and Pagadebit grapes (and no animals), enjoy a great wine which is conveniently packaged in a can!