As we move into the festive season, you might be starting to think about stocking up on vegan booze for Christmas and New Years.
Champagne is a popular choice for silly season, but unfortunately some champagnes use animal products in their production, making them unsuitable for vegans.
Luckily, we’re here to take the stress out of buying bubbles, so you can focus on the important things – like drinking it…
Is champagne vegan?
Technically, the ingredients in a glass of champagne are vegan, but just like beer, the vegan status of champagne can be affected by its manufacturing process, which sometimes involves the use of animal products as fining agents. .
Luckily, many winemakers are moving away from animal-based processes, but not all of them, so we have to be discerning when looking for cruelty-free fizzes.
What is champagne?
Champagne is a sparkling white wine originating from the Champagne wine region of France. For a product to be called champagne, it must be produced in Champagne, according to strict rules concerning pressing and fermentation techniques.
The grapes used for champagne are usually pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay, and these must come from specific areas of the region, to comply with regulations.
Sparkling wine from other parts of the world cannot be called champagne and must be sold under another name. For example, sparkling wine from Italy is called prosecco or spumante, while cava is the Spanish offering.
Often it is simply called “sparkling wine”. (There is one exception to this rule – American wine producers who called their product “champagne” before 2006 were allowed to continue to do so, provided they clearly state where the wine was actually made.)
Why shouldn’t champagne be vegan?
As mentioned above, it is the fining agents used in the winemaking process that can make some champagnes unsuitable for vegans.
These agents are mixed into the wine to absorb substances that may alter the taste or appearance of the finished product.
Unfortunately, a number of common fining agents are of animal origin, including gelatin (made from boiled animal parts), ishinglass (a collagen extracted from the dried swim bladder of fish), casein (found in milk) and egg whites.
Bentonite (a type of clay), pea protein and carbon are three natural bonding agents that do not come from animals.
UK allergen laws state that wines matured with milk or egg products (with detectable limits in the finished product at levels above 0.25mg/litre) must be clearly labelled.
The label may say “Contains Egg/Egg Protein/Egg Products/Egg Lysozyme/Egg Albumin” or “Contains Milk/Dairy Products/Milk Casein/Milk Protein” “.
Unfortunately, gelatin and fish glue don’t legally require a mention (despite fish being a known allergen), which makes things a bit trickier.
Your first stop should be Barnivore, a comprehensive online guide to vegan alcohol. However, if you’re still unsure about the manufacturing process for your favorite bubbly, it’s best to contact the brand directly.
Which champagnes are vegan?
Fortunately, there are plenty of quality vegan champagnes widely available – here’s a list of popular brands to get you started.
1. Dom Perignon Vintage 2012 Brut, £195
This brand of luxury champagne specializes in “vintage” champagnes, that is to say those that only contain grapes from a single year that have experienced exceptional harvests.
This is reflected in the higher price, as it is usually only produced you or four times a decade. All Dom Pérignon champagnes are suitable for vegans.
2. Yellow Label Veuve Clicquot Brut, £45
“One quality, the best” is the motto of this famous champagne brand, famous for its eye-catching yellow labels.
This silky champagne is aged for at least three years, giving fruity aromas of peach, plum, vanilla and brioche. All Veuve champagnes are vegan.
3. Möet & Chandon Imperial Brut, £40
This iconic champagne has been around since 1869 and has aromas of crisp green apple, lemon and toasted cashews, with flavors of pear, white peach and apple.
Rest assured that all Möet champagnes are vegan, so you can drink it guilt-free.
4. Tattinger Brut Reserve, £40
This is Tattinger’s signature cuvée, incorporating 30% chardonnay, which is rare for a non-vintage champagne.
Each glass of fizz offers subtle brioche aromas, with a balanced mouthfeel with notes of fresh fruit. Tattinger has confirmed that all of its champagnes are vegan.
5. Lanson The Black Label Brut, £36
Lanson is one of the oldest champagne houses, with over 260 years of winemaking experience. This fresh number has notes of orchard fruits, tangerine, lemon and grapefruit. Fortunately, all Lanson champagnes are vegan.
6. Piper-Heidsieck Brut, £36
This elegant bottle will look fabulous on any party table, and the light but crisp champagne has flavors of fruit, nuts and citrus. The company has confirmed that all of its champagnes are vegan.
7. Nicolas Feuillatte Grand Reserve Brut, £24
All Nicholas Feuillatte champagnes are confirmed vegan. This affordable bottle is ripe and intense, with delicate notes of fig, plum and dried apricot – perfect for your vegan Christmas dinner.
8. Laurent-Perrier La Cuvee Brut, £24
France’s largest family-run champagne house has confirmed that it does not use animal products in any of its champagnes or during the manufacturing process.
This one is described as “the perfect celebratory fizz”, with a balance of fruity flavors and creamy texture.
Is prosecco vegan?
Just like champagne, prosecco may or may not be vegan due to its manufacturing process. Check the label, look for Barnivore or contact the manufacturer.
For inspiration, the following popular prosecco brands are confirmed vegan:
- La Gioiosa Prosecco Brut, £10
- Freixenet Prosecco Doc, £12
- Bottega Gold Prosecco, £20
Is the cava vegan?
The same rules apply to cava as to champagne and prosecco, and the following products are vegan:
- Contevedo Cava Brut, £5.49
- Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava, £10
- Bodegas Muga Conde de Haro Cava, £14.99
We hope this has made your festive bubbly shopping easier – kudos to that!
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Featured image: SeventyFour via Getty Images