Not that I’m a purist by any stretch of the imagination but I was just wondering how many of the up to 200 possible additives are in the wine I am drinking this moment.
How much do I care? Well, I’m ambivalent. I know wine makers have added things to wine since ancient times. Early Greek winemakers believed wine could be improved by including additives like resin, herbs, spice, seawater, brine, oil and perfume. Some of these were used to improve wine’s shelf life (or urn life if you will.) Others were obviously used strictly for flavoring.
The art of winemaking has progressed since those days, but not necessarily towards purity. From all the winery tours our parents dragged us on in our early years, we used to think that the wines of today were pretty much pressed grapes and yeast, with, oh, maybe a bit of acid correction and some time in oak for a flavor boost.
That that was sheer naiveté. There is a whole new list of additives and strategies allowed that are used to “correct” and “improve” the final product. And they don’t talk about those so much on your average wine tour, or in the tasting room. Additives range from a fairly innocuous addition of water (supposedly before fermentation) to a rather alarming ammonium phosphate. Fertilizer anyone?
I probably like what some of these additives or techniques do for wines. I certainly can’t imagine that I’ve avoided adulterated wine my whole life. But I guess maybe that’s what bothers me, I don’t know.
Some additives are used during the process, and may be mostly gone by bottling time. But to many, that is not the point. Some of the substances used to fine wine (attract particles so they bind together and sink to the bottom to be excluded from the final product) are animal matter like gelatin and egg white. I’m sure there is more than one vegan out there that would be surprised, and unhappy, to learn that.
Allergy sufferers can be sensitive to minute amounts of a substance. Soy allergy sufferers might like to know, for instance, that soy flour is sometimes used as a nutrient to increase fermentation in wine.
Wine Catz think we should know what’s in our wine just like we know what’s in our breakfast cereal. Wine labels should be more informative.
What do you think?