Did you know that many wine companies use egg whites and/or potassium caseinate (an animal milk protein) to purify their wines? They discovered years ago that unwanted particles in the wine would stick to these substances when added to the wine, making the removal of them easier, leaving a pure and clarified product.
You probably already know that food manufacturers have to label products made in a facility that uses milk and eggs, even though the actual recipe of the animal-free product you buy doesn’t contain animal products. It’s because some of the animal product, which also happens to be an allergen, ends up in your vegan product because it’s made on the same machinery – even though the policy is to clean the manufacturing machinery between recipes.
Many wine companies, because of the high cost of using egg whites are switching to a clay method which works just as well, and eliminates the salmonella and milk risk factors present in wines where those two animal-based methods are used. Many wine companies are using a combination of animal and clay method and many are sticking to the only animal-based method of clarifying their product.
Of the companies I called to inquire, most that are not using the clay method or are using a combination of the two are located in the Pacific Northwest. Foreign wine companies most often use the old method, whereas newer, progressive companies choose the clay method.
Unlike food companies, the wine, beer and spirit industry is not required to label the allergens either present in their product or used in the manufacturing of their product.
This needs to change and will change. We, the consumer, demand to know what we are putting into our bodies, regardless of the views of the owners of the recipe.
Remember this: The next time you have an allergic reaction to the alcohol beverage you’re drinking, or you get nauseated and sick after you’ve had a drink or two, maybe you shouldn’t automatically blame it on the sulfites or the mixer or the alcohol itself. Maybe it was the egg white and/or milk protein or other animal product we know nothing about. Maybe the insects used to color the wine.
We, the consumer, demand to know what you put in the product you sell to us. And if you don’t tell us and tell us truthfully and accurately, then we’ll start making our own wine, beer and spirits and leave yours in the dust where it belongs.