There’s a huge amount of variety in red wines. The most commonly known red grapes are:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Garnacha (or Grenache)
- Pinot Noir
- Shiraz (or Syrah)
And some other popular red grapes:
- Tempranillo (or Tinta Roriz)
Making red wine
At a very high level, red wine is made as follows:
- Pick the grapes (by hand or machine).
- Crush the grapes.
- Leave the crushed grapes to ferment (skin on). This fermentation stage can be anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks.
- Collect the liquid (free run wine) from the fermentation tanks and press the skins to extract more flavour and tannins (press wine). The winemaker can choose to blend the free run wine and press wine at this stage, after ageing or not at all depending on their preference.
- Age the wine in suitable vessels (tanks, oak barrels, concrete eggs etc).
- Stabilise the wine (filtration and/or finings).
- Bottle the wine.
It is the stabilising wine stage (fining specifically) that determines if the wine is vegan or not. Some wines are not filtered or fined, in which case they will be vegan. If a wine is fined, then as long non-animal derived finings are used (for example, clay, pea gelatine or charcoal), you will have a vegan red wine. You can read more about this in Vegan Wine.
Typically red wine is more likely to be vegan than its white counterparts, simply because the colour of the wine is more forgiving if a tiny bits of sediment remain. White wines on the other hand must be perfectly clear (unless natural!), otherwise they will likely be deemed faulty.
The decision to fine or not is up to the winemaker and may even vary year by year depending on the quality of grapes. Often high quality wines and wines made in small batches are less likely to use any fining agents, instead allowing gravity to naturally settle the sediments to the bottom of the tanks before removing the clear wine (racking).