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White sugar is not vegan and can be used in winemaking. This has always been a very important topic for us. You can read more on one of our previous blog posts "Is there sugar in your wines?"
Let's begin with why white sugar is not vegan. Bone char—often referred to as natural carbon—is widely used by the sugar industry as a decolorizing filter, which allows the sugar cane to achieve a white color. Bone char is made from the bones of cattle slaughtered in foreign countries and sold to traders in other countries, who then sell the bones back to the U.S. sugar industry. Typically, sugar is made from sugarcane, sugar beets, or coconuts. Beet and coconut sugar are never processed with bone char. Wines can be enhanced with added sugar. Chaptalization has been a process standard for centuries, in which sugar or grape concentrate was added to fermenting grape must boost the alcohol level in the finished wine. This can happen when the harvest is not good, which can occur more today due to climate change.
The use of grape concentrate juice is more common today than ever, especially with the low coast wines found in supermarkets and the red blend category wines with no name brand on the vegan menu in restaurants. However, wines made from juice concentrate are full of white sugar, still labeled as wine, and sometimes vegan-friendly. While the positive is many new vegan restaurants are opening nationwide, there are lingering thoughts about how carefully vegan restaurants are selecting their wines to ensure they're as vegan as their menu.
In our guidelines is NO added sugar to our wines. We only work with winemakers that produce their wines with natural sugars from the grapes for fermentation. Alcohol is from sugar, so let's keep our wines made from all-natural, organic, and vegan raw sugar from the grapes, not Chaptalization. At Vegan Wines, however, our wines contain only the naturally occurring sugars from grapes. The winemakers we have partnered with do not add any sugar to their wines. Like them, we believe that naturally vegan wines are also naturally delicious and beautiful without much intervention at all!