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Why does Trader Joe's have so many vegan wines?


So I've told you before that TJ's has many, many vegan wines. I was skeptical at first, but with more research and knowing what is used instead I feel pretty confident now.

So the clarifying agent used in vegan wines is Bentonite.

Here's my quick take on it, it is a clay that is used to attract particles in order for wine to look clearer and therefore brighter, it also can eliminate some off flavors as well.

When people hold a wine up to look at the color they are also looking at the clarity of it. Are there still particles floating around in the wine?

In the potter's world it is used to brighten the colors used. That made perfect sense to me knowing what it did for wine clarification when JD Schall, and I were discussing Bentonite over a fabulous vegan dinner he and my sister had made. Not only is he a great vegan chef, but also an amazing potter.

It was after that conversation that I decided to look into it more. Bentonite is pretty versatile as a fining agent, because you can add it to the wine at differing parts of the process. It is also really good at gathering hard to gather proteins, tannins, and yeast after fermentation. How it works: It produces a negative charge (think static electricity), and so it will gather positively charged proteins either at the bottom with gentle stirring to stimulate movement or through floating through the wine from bottom to top during fermentation.

The CO2 allows it to stick to the bubbles, and gather proteins as it floats up to the top with the CO2 bubble. When they are discarded from the wine this produces a clearer, cloudless wine. According to ECKraus's website the lower the temperature of the wine, the stronger the Betonite charge and hence the better it works. I found a list and explanation of common clarifying agents in wines. It also became apparent that home wine makers use Bentonite.

So find a homewinemaker, shop where they know if wines are vegan or not, (the more we ask, local shops will be aware and accommodate) or check with Barnivore to see if your wine pops up on their site/app as vegan. PETA also provides a list of other agents that can be used in vegan wines.