Wine Ingredients

Published April 21, 2014

Remember years ago when all food products were required to list their ingredients? Now, some even contain a handy list of allergens if you are too lazy to read through the tiny yet lengthy list of ingredients you cannot even pronounce. This is helpful if you need to quickly figure out if ingesting it will make you sick or stop breathing. It is also helpful to those with unique diets to read “vegetarian” or “vegan.”

Why are wines exempt from such labeling? If you think the list of ingredients in the wine you drink stops at grapes and sunshine, wake up and smell the sulfur. Sure, grapes naturally have all the ingredients to turn grape juice into wine. The grape skins provide the yeast to turn the sugar in their pulp and juice into alcohol. But very few winemakers these days are keeping it that simple.

Daring wineries like Bonny Doon and Ridge Vineyards have chosen to put ingredients on their labels. They even go so far as to explain a few of the simple additives like water, egg whites, and tartaric acid on their websites. Whether their labels include chemicals used on their grapes is unknown. But the list of allowed additives is shocking not to mention the pesticides used in most vineyards.  If you prefer to live in a world where most vineyards don’t use RoundUp, you should probably also avoid googling the gastrointestinal side effects of that pesticide. Pests are lookin’ much better, aren’t they?!

Winemakers who don’t use pesticides or additives are more than happy to talk about their noble practices. They may say they make “natural wines” but be sure to press further to find out what that means to them because some are more extreme than others. If all this makes you wonder why more winemakers don’t make natural wines, you should know that these practices produce fewer grapes and most wineries would rather sell you more wine of questionable quality. It’s not a new story. Wine is like any other manufactured product that suffers quality and flaws in the system. So, if you want to be the change, just stop buying manufactured wine.


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