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pouring wine [1] This seems like a simple answer: wine. But, what is in wine? That’s another question. I have been pondering on it a lot. (To read my article on this subject click here) [2] So I still have no idea of what is in wine besides fermented grape juice and a few other traditional things. Nor does anyone else know. That is, except for the people who make the wine and assumedly the people who regulate the ingredients that can be included. In the U.S. there are reported to be something like 50 different ingredients that can be added. Can you believe it? Fifty that are approved and what else? No wonder so many manufacturers, producers, and wine trade groups do not want mandatory ingredient labeling for wine. After all, with that many things added, the labeling on the bottle would take up a lot of space. And, if consumers saw a big laundry list of names that are unrecognizable, how appealing is that? My guess is that a lot of people would not buy wine with the disclosure that there are a lot of things in the wine besides fermented grape juice.

For most of my life I have avoided buying any food products that have a large listing of ingredients. And, if that list included names I have never heard of that cliched it. Also, things like “hydrogenated oil,” “monosodium glutamate,” and “artificial ingredients” are, for me, reasons to avoid a product. But, so far, wine apparently has not reached the level of  “food product” in the U.S.  Here it is regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Geez, what company! Alcohol, Tobacco, and Taxes? How can it be that wine has a chance in this crowd? Wine, for me, is a food. I drink it as a beverage with what I eat. What other people do with it is their business. But, I, for one, would like to know what is in the bottle of wine I am drinking. Having just read an article on a new ingredient approved to go into wine I am even more curious and suspicious.

laxatives photo [3]

You see, it seems that Australia has just approved a laxative agent (sodium carboxymethyl cellulose) as a wine additive. Holy S…! Say it ain’t so, Joe. But, before it can cause a rumble, The California Wine Institute, Australia, and the EU chimed in. Here are a few quotes from the article:

“I don’t think the levels that are approved for use in wine in the EU and Australia will give that laxative effect, said Wendell Lee, general counsel for the Wine Institute, the trade group for California‘s wine industry. Lee, the Wine Institute’s general counsel, said that while labeling information such as allergen content or carbohydrates might be helpful to consumers, disclosing other substances that don’t have a health impact may not be worthwhile. Do consumers need to be told about the substances that go into wine production? Lee asked. I’m not sure there’s a lot of useful information in that.”

“In its ruling, the Australian government wrote that use of the additive to stabilize wine and sparkling wine is technologically justified and would be expected to provide benefits to wine producers and consumers as an alternative to current treatments. The chemical has not been approved for use in wine produced in the United States. However, an international agreement among several nations – including Australia; the European Union, where it is approved; and the U.S. – means that it is legal in imported wines.”

“But because there are no labeling requirements for food additives in wine, U.S. drinkers will remain in the dark as to its presence. According to both the EU and Australian government, the chemical does not alter the taste or consistency of wine, and it poses no harm to human health.”

(To read the entire article written by Susan Rust and appearing on California Watch 12/6/11click here [4])

So there you have it. We don’t know what is in wine. But, we now know something that might be in wine from the EU and Australia. So be careful. Otherwise, you will be in the dark and, if there is a laxative effect from this additive, you just might get caught with your pants down!

In Vino Veritas,Sig

John Tilson