The tide is turning in favour of vegans. We are increasingly asked for vegan friendly wines, which is no mean feat because a vast number of wines do qualify but don't state that they are vegan friendly - because that's not usually the impetus for their makers to make their wines unfined. Fining is a process where protein particles are added to wine to bind with invisible floating particles in wine prior to bottling. If wines are not fined, they can end up with a cloudy appearance - which is not everyone's cup of tea.
The trouble is that fining is done with protein rich products, such as egg white but also sometimes bentonite; a type of clay.
Fining is also believed by some winemakers to remove desired flavours from wine, so it's increasingly popular not to fine wine.
Still, all of the above notwithstanding, the demand for vegan wines is on the rise. Big time.
It's in tandem with the demand for vegan food.
The Guardian reported last month that the UK had an increase in vegan food sales of 388% between 2016 and 2018. The rise was for vegan takeaways in the United Kingdom. Not bad for a country best known for its greasy fish 'n chips and creamy chicken tikka marsalas rather than vegetable based take outs. The report, published in The Guardian Weekly in September this year, estimated that there are now 600,000 people in the UK who are vegan. Mainstream supermarkets and caterers are increasingly targeting this market with their food.
As are wine, beer and spirits merchants. Which is where we come in.
The massive rise in demand for vegan drinks helps explain why we have a growing number of customers asking for vegan wines.
One of our newest initiatives at Regional Wines & Spirits this year has been to clearly label our organically certified wines on our shelves in store. We have done this with clear green cards stating 'Certified organic'. And unless a wine is certified for organic wine production, it doesn't qualify for our green card.
The same goes for biodynamically certified wines, which we have labelled on our shelves with blue cards.
Next up, vegan friendly wines.
It's a tricky area because many wines are vegan friendly but don't state it on the label, so it will be a work in progress but it's one that we want to be better informed about when it comes to specific wines in store.
Watch this space.