Is your Champagne flute ready for Valentine’s Day? If, like many others, you plan to celebrate with this bubbly celebratory drink, you should know that it may not be vegan.
Bon Appetit explains that the base for Champagne is typically a dry wine made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, or a blend. Many wines, including Champagnes, go through a process that uses fining agents to clarify their product. These fining agents can include:
- isinglass (swim bladders of fish)
- gelatin (animal protein from the skin and connective tissue of pigs and cows)
- carmine (the bodies of dried cochineal beetles)
- casein (a protein derived from milk)
- chitosan (made from crustaceans)
- egg albumen (egg whites)
Some champagnes also use sugar in their recipes, and many times this is refined using bone char.
Finding out whether or not Champagne is vegan simply by looking at the bottle is usually not reliable. Typically the bottle will not be labeled vegan, nor will it state clearly which fining agents are used. The good news is there are vegan Champagnes out there! Some popular Champagnes, including Chandon and Dom Perignon are said to be vegan. The website Barnivore is an excellent source to help look up specific champagnes like these, though you should be sure to read the comments from the company (and other commenters) about each product to verify the claim. (Keep in mind that Barnivore does not discriminate between vegan and non-vegan sugar.)
UPDATE: After looking more closely into this issue, we have since decided that we cannot confirm the vegan status of any particular champagnes.
Champagnes that might be vegan:
Domaine Ste. Michelle (Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, Brut, Extra Dry and Luxe)
Champagnes that are NOT vegan:
Korbel Natural Champagne (made with sugar refined using bone char, and possibly gelatin)
Freixenet Sparkling Wines
Gloria Ferrer Sparkling Wine
Harmony Wynelands Wedding Champagne
Korbel Brut and Extra Dry
Louis Roederer Champagne
Yellowglen Pink Champagne
If you have a favorite Champagne, the best way to find out if it is vegan or not is to contact the company directly and ask them: “Is your Champagne vegan? Do you use fining agents? What about refined sugar?”
If you opt for a different type of drink on Valentine’s Day, there are a number that are vegan, including Grey Goose, Absolut, and Don Julio Tequila. You can also toast with the classic non-alcoholic and vegan Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider. Or, better yet, you can check your local health food store or market for local drink varieties.