Serving wine at your Thanksgiving feast? Watch what you pair with the vegetarian roast. Turns out, more than 70 additives-including a handful of animal products - can be used to make and process wine. Winemakers aren't required to list those additives on wine labels, so it can be extra-tricky to know which wines are truly vegetarian or vegan. Not to worry. Here's how to find a veg-friendly vino (and avoid ones that aren't).
Not So Fine
Used to clarify wine, fining agents attract detritus left over from fermentation and eventually precipitate out. The issue? Trace amounts can remain in the finished product, and traditional fining agents are often not vegan or even vegetarian. Think gelatin, isinglass (fish bladders), chitin (crustacean shells), egg whites, and milk proteins. Luckily, more and more winemakers are using animal-free fining agents such as bentonite clay and carbon-or no fining agents at all. Choosing organic or biodynamic wines does not guarantee they'll be veg-friendly. Your best bet is to ask winemakers which, if any, fining agents they use.
It's Only Natural
No time to investigate iffy ingredients? Kate Jacoby, co-owner of Philadelphia's Vedge restaurant, suggests sticking with "natural" wines, which are naturally veg: they're made with minimal intervention and no fining agents to clarify them. "After all," she says, "why do you need a clear wine?" Look for bottles with the words "unfined" and "unfiltered" on the label. Or shop online at stores such as New York's Chambers Street Wines (chambersstwines.com) and Los Angeles's Domaine LA (domainela.com), which specialize in natural wines and offer mail order. What do natural wines taste like? Expect more life and a greater range of flavors.
I'll Toast to That!
Get ready to wine and dine this holiday season-these eight wineries make only veg wines.
A longtime advocate for organic wines made without added sulfites-believed to be richer in terroir. freywine.com
Albet i Noya
Spain's first certified organic wine producer, whose wide range of varietals includes classy Pendès sparkling wine. albetinoya.cat/eng
The Eyrie Vineyards
The pioneering winery that first proved fabulous Pinot Noir could be made in Oregon, despite its cool climate. eyrievineyards.com
Owner Sebastiano Castiglioni is a lifelong vegetarian. Wines of note: the structured and classic Chiantis. querciabella.com
Lively white wines and rich Syrahs made in the natural vein in France's Rhône region. eric-texier.com
Unusual organic wines from the country of Georgia. Not for strict vegans: grapes are fermented in clay vessels lined with beeswax. pheasantstears.com
Bonny Doon Vineyard
No secrets here! This biodynamic winery's beautiful labels list every ingredient. bonnydoonvineyard.com
La Clarine Farm
As-natural-as-it-gets wine made in California's Sierra Nevada foothills. Try the Jambalaia Blanc or Rosé. laclarinefarm.com