If you are having a celebration then sparkling wine is the obvious choice of alcoholic drink. Champagne is most synonymous with a joyous occasion and is rightly the world’s most revered fizz. However, whether your budget – or taste – is for Champagne, Prosecco, Cava or any other sparkling wine, the important question you should ask before popping the cork is, of course, is it vegan?
We are rather partial to an occasional tipple here at VeganFriendly.org.uk and you can see our more general is wine vegan? article. But here we are looking more specifically at Champagne and the other popular types of sparkling wine, such as Prosecco. Note we also look at whether beer is vegan or not, as well as considering vegan cider and answering the question are spirits vegan? Well, we did tell you we liked an occasional drink… always in a responsible manner, of course!
If you just want a short, simple answer about the vegan credentials of sparkling wine then, unfortunately, we can only be 50% obliging: we have a short answer but it isn’t simple. Some Champagne and sparkling wine is vegan and some isn’t. The same applies to the other types of sparkling wine already mentioned, as well as English fizz, which is increasing in popularity and quality all the time.
Why Some Champagne Is Not Vegan
Some readers may be questioning why there could ever be any doubt about wine, given it is essentially just grape juice. However, as all vegans know, there are questions, doubts, issues and caveats with just about all food products, drinks or household goods for those seeking to stick strictly to their vegan principles.
In terms of ingredients, there are no issues with wine. Wine that is made in the most natural and traditional way possible is indeed just grape juice. Fermentation takes place using wild yeast often from the skin of the grapes, sometimes from the air and surrounding environment, as well. More modern wines, however, may add a surprising range of extra ingredients, as you can see below:
- Sulphur Dioxide
- Synthetic Flavourings
- Concentrated Grape Juice
- Calcium Carbonate
- Potassium (Sorbate and/or Metabisulphite)
Some of these ingredients, for example, yeast and sulphur dioxide, are added far more commonly that others. None the less, a lot of modern wines include far more than just the juice of the noble grape. Whilst some of the items on the list above are clearly and obviously vegan friendly, such as water, with others, there are once again questions to address.
Unless you are a keen chemist or have a great understanding of modern food science and ingredients, it is highly likely you might not recognise some of the items mentioned above.
Enough people ask about the vegan-friendliness of those three items that we have specific articles dealing with them. You can read those for further clarity but in actual fact it isn’t any of the strange ingredients we listed above that cause the problem when it comes to sparkling wines, such as Champagne.
Vegan Friendly Champagnes
There are a number of first class Champagnes that can be happily consumed by vegans. Indeed, the majority of Champagnes are vegan, so you certainly shouldn’t have any problem at all finding one to suit your taste and budget. As ever, this information comes with the usual caveat of being correct at the time of writing.
Please note that the above list is just a small selection of some of the biggest and most well-known Champagnes that are also vegan. There are many vegan Champagnes we have not detailed here, including most own-brand supermarket Champagnes. You should also note that not every Champagne produced by the brands above is vegan friendly. For example, there seems to be some confusion as to whether or not Perrier-Jouët’s Grand Brut is vegan, with some suggestion milk-based finings are used.
When it comes to Champagne that is not vegan, there are certainly a small number of very popular brands to avoid. Once more, this is subject to change, not exhaustive and correct to the best of our knowledge. Whilst it is quite unlikely a Champagne would change from being vegan to not being vegan, it is rather more likely that a once-non-vegan producer might change to adopt more modern, vegan-friendly methods of fining. As such, if any of your favourite fizzes are listed below it might be worth contacting the Champagne house to check. If we’ve got anything wrong, please let us know too so we can update this article.
- Bollinger – “Bolly” might well have been James Bond’s favourite but then Bond wasn’t vegan!
- Billecart-Salmon – Famed for its brilliant rosé, neither that nor the standard brut are vegan friendly
- Champagne Gremillet – This relatively small house use milk products to fine their wine