When you’re pouring your favourite wine, top of mind might not be the wine-making process, but when you need to buy or switch to vegan wines, then it’s all you’ll think about. The tide is turning at wineries, though, and it is something that they are thinking about.
With more and more South Africans choosing a vegan diet, they want their wine to all be vegan-friendly, and that means no animal-based products should be used in the production.
Animal products derived from milk, eggs, fish and including gelatine are used in a part of the winemaking process to fine and clarify the liquid before it is bottled.
This limits the number of wines available to vegans and vegetarians.
At vegan-friendly wineries such as Delheim in Stellenbosch, only a type of clay called Bentonite and a plant-derived protein in the wine-making is used.
The famous Stellenbosch winery used zero animal products traditionally used in wine-making to produce its 2018 Delheim Pinotage Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc.
And don’t be put off, these wines lack nothing - in fact, they’re enhanced by the vegan-friendly process.
The Delheim Pinotage Rosé was first created by Delheim patriarch Spatz Sperling.
“Although we had severe dry conditions, the average temperature during the harvest period was cooler than previous years,” said wine-maker Altus Treurnicht.
The result was slower ripening, which is ideal for the development of fruit, while the smaller size of the berries caused by drought came with its own challenge of extracting juice gently to retain the elegance of the pinotage grapes.
Reminiscent of a perky spring breeze, the vegan-friendly 2018 rosé also features a splash of Muscat de Frontignan (3.5%), which balances the crisp acidity and red berry sweetness with a juicy fruit character and adds to the vibrant perfume character of the wine.
The 2018 Delheim Sauvignon Blanc was similarly impacted by the dry conditions.
“Conditions like these have a specific effect on the aromatic profile of sauvignon blanc,” he said. “In this wine, the profile is more tropical fruit.”
Org de Rac, the organic wine farm in the Swartland, has eschewed all animal products such as certain fining agents that have been part of the traditional wine-making process, and with its organic status is experiencing an increase in demand owing to its vegan-friendly wines.
“Being a red-blooded South African who enjoys my braai and a platter of cheese, I never thought the day would come when I would be admitting that veganism is becoming a general trend among consumers,” said Frank Meaker, cellar master at Org de Rac.
The winery produces the Org de Rac and Org de Rac Verdelho 2017 which is organic and vegan-friendly, a testament to their stance of creating choice for vegan wine-drinkers.
It’s not a conflict of lifestyle if you choose to be vegan but still want to enjoy a glass of wine.
In fact, there will be more food and beverages in the near future that will have to be adapted to cater to vegan-friendly diners and consumers of all types.