Dear Dr. Walt,
I’m allergic to eggs. I know that wines are often clarified using egg whites. Should I avoid these wines? How can I determine if a wine was filtered using a different method?
—Imbiber in Indiana
Dear Ova Evader,
Wines are clarified using a range of substances known collectively as fining agents. Egg whites and albumin (a protein derived from eggs or milk) are commonly used fining agents.
People who follow a vegan lifestyle will often seek out wines that have been fined using bentonite, a clay-based compound.
However, if the fining process is executed properly, most finished wines will contain no trace of these materials.
Nevertheless, if your allergy is severe and there’s any question about whether or not a wine might contain trace elements of a substance that could trigger a reaction, you can seek out wines that are made without them, but you’ll likely need to do a little homework.
Several vegan-friendly organizations maintain lists of wines that have been fined without the use of any animal byproducts.
You can also call up any winery’s tasting room or customer service department and just ask!
© Copyright Walter L. Larimore, M.D. 2016. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.