Veganuary, and beyond: drinking vegan wine

Not only is veganism here to stay, it's on the rise. Those behind the increasingly popular 'Veganuary' campaign reported a phenomenal 100% increase in sign-ups between 2018 and 2019, and that number is expected to rise again this year.

With that, more people are choosing vegan options on menus. Everyone, from fast food chains to Michelin starred establishments, is jumping on the Veganuary train and making sure their offerings are up to scratch. It's never been more vital for venues to ensure their drinks lists - in particular, wine menus - are offering the same scale of vegan-friendly choices. Because, although all wine is from grapes, not all wine is vegan.

But wines are made from grapes, aren't they?

Wine = fermented grape juice, and there's certainly nothing non-vegan about grapes. And yet, many wines can't technically be classified as vegan. 

Although the concept of using animal products in wine may sound odd, it's actually a common winemaking technique. Animal-derived products such as gelatin, albumen or casein may be used in a process called 'fining', where some organic particles (such as proteins or bacteria) are removed from wine. Essentially, this works as a 'cleaning' process - after fining, wines will have the clear and bright appearance that many consumers expect.

While animal products used to be the most commonplace fining agents, more winemakers are now choosing to use mineral and plant-based fining agents instead, such as activated charcoal and bentonite. These wines can then be classified as vegan. In addition, a drive towards 'natural' styles of wine mean some producers are doing away with fining altogether, electing to let their wines self-stabilise and self-clarify. Often, this results in a 'hazy' or cloudy appearance in these wines, which also fall into the vegan category.

Winemakers such as James Millton of Millton Vineyards are now electing to use animal-free alternatives during the fining process

Staying power

The number of vegans in the UK has quadrupled in the past 5 years, at a growth rate which - if it continues this trajectory - will see an entire quarter of the population classified as vegan by 2025. 

And it's not only those going the whole hog (so to speak...) who are bucking the trend. Flexitarianism, where people aim to cut down on animal products rather than cut them out entirely, is also on the rise. 56% of people now admit they have adopted vegan buying behaviours. So, even if your outlet might not be giving up the steak knives and charcuterie boards just yet, it's still worth ensuring that you're providing options for this consumer group.

Hitting the vegan mark

We asked two customers how they'd be catering for Veganuary and beyond with their favourite vegan food and wine pairings.

Mews of Mayfair 

Roasted delica pumpkin, with orange-braised chicory, puy lentils & sherry vinegar onions 

Suggested pairing: Royal Tokaji Mezes Mely Dry Furmint 

In honour of Veganuary, Mews of Mayfair have launched a 'Saints & Sinners' menu, offering their customers the best of both worlds. The sweetness of the pumpkin combines perfectly with the aromatic intensity of this Dry Furmint.


Trucioli 'ondulati' with winter vegetable crisps, cauliflower and truffle 

Paired with: Alois Lageder Chardonnay

Pasta pioneers Bancone offer regular vegan specials on their menus, with egg-free pasta. They recommend the Alois Lageder Chardonnay to pair with their Trucioli & Truffle pasta; creamy enough to hold its own against the starchiness of the dish, its fruit aromas balance out the sweetness of the vegetables and umami from the truffle.

Find the vegan wine for you

We offer a huge range of vegan* wines, that fits every palate and pocket. The majority of our producers operate under sustainable practices, and with veganism a growing part of this movement, our ability to offer our customers a wide range of great vegan wines is ever-rising. You can now view our entire range here

*Please note: some definitions of veganism include avoiding the consumption of any product by which animals have been linked to any part of its creation or growth, for example, animals acting as natural grazers in vineyards to keep weeds and pests under control. Bibendum operates under the guidelines that vegan products are solely those which do not contain any form or residue of animal product or animal-sourced product.

Interested in building your vegan wine offering?

You can now browse our full range of vegan wines here.

Having spent childhood summers trekking through Italian vineyards, Elisa’s love of wine started at a young age. After a few stints working in pubs across the UK, she realised she could try far more samples working in a wine company, and landed at Bibendum two years ago. Now, she spends her days looking after digital marketing: writing, posting on social media, and everything in between.

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