meatless monday recipe…wine?

image from italyinsf

cruising the internets yesterday, i came across this series of reviews of trader joe’s from – for most, these posts would be confirmation of all that is the glorious, salivating foodie adventure that is trader joe’s. but for me, it was this one sentence from the review posted by (a pretty fab vegan blog) that stopped me in my tracks:

They also sell their famously inexpensive Charles Shaw wine, a.k.a. “Two Buck Chuck” – which, obviously, goes for $2/bottle (in doing a little research on the internet I am seeing conflicting information about whether or not their Two Buck Chuck is vegan-friendly, however – some wineries use animal products in the filtration process).

now a serious, vegetarian, wine drinker has to say to herself, “huh? animal products?!?”

so i posted to facebook and twitter and asked for some help on this most pressing issue (and i’m not even joking) because i’m not kidding around when it comes to wine. i do not want some foreign animal matter swirling around in my glass. the odd thing is, i have never gotten sick off of wine – i’ve been a vegetarian for quite some time now and am pretty sensitive to cross contamination or when dishes are not 100% vegetarian.  i’ve actually had chefs come and apologize to me in restaurants because a dish was prepared with chicken broth and my sweaty, tummy-aching presence obviously sensed something was wrong.

but wine? mon dieu!

in response to my panicked query, my good friend arminda sent me to these two posts – one from diary of a nutritionist and the second from wise geek. basically, to remove proteins, yeast, and other organic particles, wineries use something called a fining agent. it is added to the top of the wine vat and as it sinks down, these elements adhere to it and help to filter the wine. i am in quite a quandry about this – i actually don’t eat altoids or anything else with gelatin in it because it is made from animal bones. i wonder why i’ve never had a bad reaction to wine (only to bad wines)? should i still be concerned? it’s a lot to ponder…and what exactly are we talking about?

this explanation from

Fining can take on a whole new meaning if you are a vegetarian or a vegan. Many of the fining agents used are animal products. These animal products include albumen, casein, gelatin, and isinglass.

Albumen, which is produced from egg whites, is the most common fining agent. Egg whites are typically used in fining red wines. Wines fined with egg whites are acceptable to vegetarians but not vegans.

Casein is a milk protein. Casein is also more commonly used in red wines. For someone with a severe milk allergy, it is wise to inquire if the wine they are drinking was fined with casein.

Gelatin is an animal protein from the skin and connective tissue of pigs and cows. Gelatin may be used in the fining process of either red or white wines.

Isinglass (also called fish glue) is made from the bladder of the sturgeon fish. Like the other agents, this works like a magnet, attracting the impurities and carrying them to the bottom of the barrel or tank, producing a clean wine. Isinglass is found in many German white wines.

barnivore and vegan frommars have posted a list of vegan and non-vegan wines. they also suggest that you contact the winery directly to find out about their fining process. many of the blogs i came across in my research touted frey organic wines as a terrific vegan option. all i know, is i have a good deal of tasty research ahead of me!


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