Let's label wine like food
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Have you noticed that wine is almost the only food product that doesn’t have a full list of ingredients on its label? Many of us have not even considered the question before. Wine is a fermented grape juice, what could be the problem?
What could be inside of a regular bottle of wine?
Conventional growers, as opposed to organic farmers, are using a multitude of chemicals such as pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. As grapes are one of those fruits that accumulate a lot of those chemicals, the wine will contains those harmful substances.
Having an organic or biodynamic certification helps as the label will give everyone much more confidence that there are no residual artificial chemicals.
However, the main issue comes from what happens next at the winery. Poor quality, mechanically harvested and damaged grapes, lack of proper hygiene and care are those major reasons why conventional winemakers need to add further chemicals, sugars, colourants and preservatives to mask the flaws and make their wines palatable. Imagine, there are over 50 additives that are allowed in wine production!
Conventional wine additives
Here is a non-exhaustive list of substances that are allowed in non-organic wines and why they are added:
- Stabilisation (sorbic acid, lycozyme, chitosan);
- Acidification (magic acid)
- Protection whilst harvest (ammonium bisulphite)
- Alcoholic fermentation control (ammonium sulphate)
- Filtration and thinning of the wine (chitin-glucan, chitosan, calcium alginate, co-polymer PVI / PVP)
- Colour stabilisation (carboxymethylcellulose, yeast mannoproteins)
- Clarification (chitin-glucan, chitosan, calcium phytate, potassium ferrocyanide)
- Preservation (sulphites)
- Enrichment or other use (sugars and caramel).
It is a long list of chemicals and when you buy a bottle of wine this is something no regular producer wants you to know about. This is why conventional wines can be so cheap - they are made in an industrial way, which means a lot of additives are being used in the winemaking process.
This has been going on for years and it seems that even our palates now got accustomed to this industrialised wine. To offer some sort of comparison, the same trend has occurred with an increased amount of sugar in our soft drinks and some conventional wines too.
Organic wine additives
The solution is unfortunately not that straght forward, even if you switch to organic wine. Here is a list of additives that are still allowed in organic wine production and why:
- Enrichment (concentrated must, sucrose)
- Fermentation control (yeast cells)
- Yeast addition (active dry yeast)
- Preservation (restricted use of sulphites)
- Filtration and clarification (edible gelatine, plant proteins from wheat or peas, isinglass made of fish bones, egg white albumin, tannins)
- Colour stabilisation (acacia gum).
It is now obvious that even organic wines can still contain additional sugars, animal derived materials (which make those wines not suitable for vegans) and reduced amounts (yet could still be noticeable) of sulphites.
Why it is important?
Sugar has been named as a public health enemy number 1. Not only it contributes to excessive calorie consumption, but promotes inflammation that leads to various diseases.
Excessive amounts of sulphites trigger allergic reactions, intolerances and cause those ‘morning after’ headaches.
Elimination of animal derived materials will not only mean a much more ethical production process, but also ensure there are no additional allergens present in the final product (dairy, eggs etc).
We at Organic Wine Club believe that the way forward is to make it compulsory for every wine producer to declare all additives used. It will allow everyone to make an informed decision which wine to buy.
Support our cause!
We have been in a fortunate position where we have spoken to many winemakers who are just as passionate about what they do and that they want change too. These changes will benefit us all, but we need a collective voice from producers, retailers and consumers to make this petition heard and for change to happen.
We invite you to support our petition for a proper wine labelling legislation and join our discussion about wine ingredients and additives. See more details and get your feedback at our Lifestyle blog.
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