Fish, skins and blood in beer and wine?

Many beer and wine makers add fish bladders, gelatin, and powdered blood to their products. How so?

While very few beers or wines are made with animal ingredients, these ingredients are often used in a filtration process that removes natural solids and gives the final product a translucent appearance.

These solids are pieces of raw materials present in the recipe (eg grape skins) as well as solids that form during the fermentation process (eg yeast cells). Additives used for filtering (or clarifying) include egg whites, milk proteins, sea shells, gelatin (from animal skins or fish swim bladders).

In the past, cow’s blood was a relatively common clarifier, but its use has now been banned in the European Union due to concerns about the spread of mad cow disease. Some wines from other regions may still be mixed with blood, alas.

Alcoholic beverages labeled “vegan” are made without the use of these ingredients, but in most other cases, the presence of such ingredients is not indicated on the label. The only way to know which fining agents have been used is to contact the winery or brewery directly.

But the best thing is to give up alcohol altogether.  


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