A bottle of English wine or bubbly, makes a nice change from the normal imported wines on supermarket shelves. There’s nothing wrong with trying out a few wines from further shores. But most wines in supermarkets are not vegan-friendly (they filter using bone char or fish bladder – or sometimes contain milk or gelatine), and most supermarkets don’t even clearly label them, so you could be label-reading for a long time.
Choose local wines made with (ideally) organic grapes (less sulphites means less of a hangover). And try to find bottles that use real corks. No trees are chopped down to make cork, and it prevents more plastic in the form of plastic wine corks. Although cork is natural, it’s not biodegradable as the fibres are packed too tight. Corks are also choking hazards. When you have enough, send them off to Recorked for recycling. You can recycle blue glass bottles at green recycling banks. Most councils now accept plastic tops (if used) in the same bags as plastic bottles (they just float to the top in the water bath, made into different things).
- Renegade & Longton (East Sussex) produce sparkling wines on the coast at Hastings, using elderflowers, rather than grapes. There are two in the range (one dry and fruity and the other a blush with rhubarbs, strawberries and blackberries – a good dessert wine).
- Wild Thing Organic Prosecco is lightly sparkling with gentle bubbles, with soft apple and pear aromas and a citrus fruit palate. The bottle can be re-sealed and the wine has been developed with Born Free Foundation, so a donation from each bottle sold goes to help animal welfare conservation projects worldwide. The Goodness Project have many sparkling wine gifts at their online shop (use a letterbox guard near pets, if ordering with chocolate).
- Read Wild Wine Making to make a selection of easy-to-create fruit and other wines. Recipes include Blackberry Rhubarb, Blueberry Pear, Damson Plum, Cherry Rhubarb, Golden Raspberry, Spiced Peach, Dandelion, Elderflower, Lilac Flower, Rose Petal, Rosehip, Rosemary and Apple or Plum Champagne.
Whilst recycled plastic clothing is not that great due to releasing microfiber plastics in the washing machine, it’s good to use up waste plastic in other items, and wine bottles is one good choice. Garçon Wines has become the first company to turn on its head the way that wine bottles are made=.
Around 33 billion glass bottles are made each year, just to produce wine. We only have so much sand!
Although glass is an inert substance, the carbon footprint of a bottle of wine is mostly in the making of the glass bottle, especially if it’s then shipped around the world. And of course we have big issues with smashed glass bottles that cause injury to wildlife. This wine bottle is made from recycled plastic, in a unique flat shape. Neither the material nor shape affect wine quality (it can’t be used to house sparkling wine). But it means that the millions of people who buy wine can use up waste materials, and have a letterbox-friendly bottle too.
The bottles are designed with different colours so consumers know how to recycle them, and the caps are designed to also be easily recycled. The flat design also means lighter and easily transporting, for imported wines. The bottle is designed with a ‘tip angle’ (the same as the Leaning Tower of Pisa) so that an empty bottle remains stable on the surface, even if it’s accidentally knocked. Great if you like red wine, but have a cream carpet!
The Goodness Project sells one of their wines. Tempranillo is vegan-friendly with a deep purple colour, and notes of cherries and berries.
Sea Change is a Scottish wine company that is using its success to help protect ocean creatures. Not all the wines are vegan, so we have listed those that are below. The difference is that they have removed the usual plastic wrap around the top of the bottle and make the labels made in part from grape waste, in order to reduce plastic waste. As well as using minimal packaging, each bottle funds donations to conservation charities, helping to clean up our oceans.
All the unique labels feature beautiful sea creatures, hand drawn by their own graphic designer. If you look closely, you’ll see the hidden plastic inside them, to illustrate the dangers of plastic pollution. The vegan range includes:
- The Starfish Label features an award-winning Prosecco from the romantic Veneto region of north-eastern Italy. 8 of the world’s 40 species of starfish are endangered, mostly through ‘sea star wasting disease’, believed to be caused by global warming. 8 different forms of plastic have been found in the stomachs of starfish.
- The Whale Label is an enigmatic Château Canet from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France, featuring 3 quality wines: a zesty Sauvignon Blanc, a fruit-forward Merlot and a stylish rosé. Whales can weigh up to 200 tons and can be 100 feet in length. North Atlantic whales are very endangered (just 400 remain). One dead pilot whale was found to have 80 plastic bags in the stomach.
- The Dolphin Label is a pair of award-winning wines from Puglia in southern Italy: a vibrant refreshing Chardonnay and a rich fruity Negroamaro. The 40 species of dolphin are related to whales and porpoises. Yet just 92 remain of the Irrawaddy dolphin species in Asia. 56^ of all whale and dolphin species have been recorded eating plastic, mistaking it for food.
- The Turtle Label is sold exclusively through Star Pubs, and features cool climate grape varieties of Sauvignon and Merlot. All 7 species of marine turtles are endangered, with 2 critically endangered. Plastic pollution has been found in 100% of turtles surveyed (often because they mistake plastic bags – and balloons – for their favourite food of jellyfish).
This post on zero waste wine and bubbly covers both white and red wine, and sparkling wine. Avoid plastic corks and unethical brands, and recycle whatever the wine is sold in. The traditional cork industry (which does not cut trees down, they are just stripped of bark) is in trouble, as many companies switch over to plastic wine corks. Also see wine bottles with a lower footprint.
If the cork industry is killed off, it’s likely big companies will tear down the cork forests (home to native wildlife in Spain and Portugal), so keeping the cork industry thriving benefits all creatures.
Many wine bottles have glue to add their labels, and many brands also filter wines through bone char or fish bladder. Sometimes you can spend a long time looking in supermarkets for a vegan-friendly bottle of wine, because most stores are not very good at making it clear to see which bottles are suitable.
Look for bottles with real corks (not ‘resin’ that looks like corn). Although natural, corks are too tightly packed to break down, so try to recycle them (there are programs in the UK and US to make into other items). Corks are choking hazards for pets and children. If you can’t find corked wine (or find it difficult to open the bottles), then look for bottles with metal screw-caps (most councils accept tops in recycling waste bags).
- Look up wine brands at Barnivore, to see which are vegan-friendly. Many bottles (even from ‘ethical Co-op supermarket) contain gelatine, milk and eggs. The popular brand Blossom Hill is not vegan-friendly. Proudly Vegan Wines offers wines with vegan-friendly labels too.
- Look for organic wines without sulphites, that are liable to make you sneeze and give you a headache. Be careful, as many are stronger. Choosing organic also means supporting vineyards that take care of native wildlife.
- The carbon footprint of most wine comes from bottling and transport. It’s daft to drink wine from Australia if you live in England, and vice versa. But be careful which wine you choose, as some local ones may not have the same ethics.
- You can recycle bottles at glass recycling banks (blue bottles can go in green banks) or some councils let you recycle at home. Most recycling facilities have a way to remove the labels.
Wine in a Can
HUN Wine produces vegan wine – in a can. Made with Fair Trade ingredients, this is available in Sauvignon Blanc, Rose and bubbly Rose.
Besa Mi Vino is another brand of organic vegan canned wine, which unlike conventional wines, is free from the average 70 or so chemicals in most bottles (pesticides, food dyes and added sugar).
Wine Bottles from Recycled Paper
Frugal Bottle is not zero waste as it has a food-grade liner, but it keeps liquids cool and uses up to 77% less plastic, and is cheaper and five times lighter too, with a water footprint 4 times lower than glass. Just separate the liner from the bottle, put both in recycling bins.