Replacing Allergenic and Animal-Based Fining Agents

Last updated: 7/2023

Applies to: Winemakers who are pursuing using vegan-friendly and non-allergenic products.

Many common fining agents are derived from animal sources including gelatin (from livestock), casein (from milk), and more. These fining agents are effective because they contain proteins that have a propensity to bind with solids and other undesirable compounds in wine.

While these products have been safely used in many food and beverage applications for centuries, evolving consumer preferences have caused winemakers to look for alternatives. Milk, and therefore casein, is considered a major food allergen and animal-derived gelatins are of concern to those subscribing to vegan and vegetarian diets. Fortunately, there are non-animal-based alternatives to gelatin and casein.


Gelatin is commonly derived from the hydrolysis of pig or other animal collagens. It is used for clarification, reducing astringency/bitterness, and removing some off-aromas.

Casein is derived from milk. It is used to treat and prevent oxidative damage (including browning/pinking), counteract moldy aromas, and diminish bitterness.


Chitosan can replace both gelatin and casein depending on the chitosan formulation. Chitosan is derived through the deacetylation of chitin which is naturally produced by many living organisms and is the second most abundant polysaccharide on earth after cellulose. Depending on the preparation, chitosan can vary in degree of deacetylation, thus impacting the molecules’ ionic charge, molecular weight, and solubility. By changing one or more of these properties, the functionality of the chitosan molecule changes, thereby changing the winemaking application.


QI’UP XC is a chitosan-based clarification agent that can be used instead of gelatin. This formulation for clarification has strong positive charges to promote flocculation and destabilization of colloids which increases clarification rates. QI’UP XC is blended with tartaric acid to allow it to carry an even higher charge, further increasing clarification efficiency.


NO[OX] is an effective chitosan-based antioxidant and can be used instead of casein to treat and prevent oxidative damage, preserving color and aroma.

This formulation for antioxidative activity blocks the formation of free radicals via direct scavenging or via indirect means through metal ion (iron and copper) chelation. This means that the oxidation cascade is blocked, and browning is minimized. Chitosan is also thought to inhibit browning due to absorption of oxidized phenolic compounds or by coagulation of suspended solids to which polyphenol oxidases are bound.


Are you also looking to replace allergenic and animal-based fining agents in your winemaking process? Contact us to speak with a member of our technical team.

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