What You Don't Know About the Wine You're Drinking

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We’re all trying to live our best lives. Which to me, means being conscious of what I put in my body while still having a good time. Since we’re still getting to know each other, I’d love to tell you more about what I do and why I’m so passionate about it! I became an Independent Wine Consultant for a new company called Scout & Cellar late last year, and it has taught me so much about the wine world, building on an already firm foundation of knowledge, admiration, and curiosity for some vino. In short, Scout & Cellar was founded by Sarah Shadonix- a sommelier who experienced terrible reactions to small amounts of wine (hell yes female CEO!). She curates a list of clean-crafted wine, meaning it satisfies her standards for taste, smaller production, sustainability, and has been independently lab tested for pesticides, chemical additives, added sugar, and a slew of other surprises…not the good kind. The good news is that we have access to so much more information now, so let’s dive in to some of the not-so-fun aspects of what we may all be drinking!

Wine doesn’t have an ingredients or nutrition facts label. We see what the wine is, where it’s from, a surgeon general’s warning, and maybe a flowery blurb from the producer. It seems as though we wouldn’t need more than that, because wine is made from just grapes, right? There can actually be so much more than just grapes and alcohol in our wine:

Mega Purple

It sounds like a big purple cartoon monster. It’s a actually syrupy sweet food coloring that is added to more wines than you can imagine, and I’m not just talking about that two buck chuck. Made from very concentrated, deeply colored grapes called Rubired, they are fermented just enough to become a thick syrup consistency - with 68% sugar. Mega Purple is added to wine to achieve a deeper color, which increases the perception of value, and adds a sweetness to round out a wine. It also masks any flaws the winemaker may have encountered, but the problem is, it also masks many of the complexities and intricacies of a wine. 

Sugar

It can be added during or after fermentation, in different forms (*cough* Mega Purple *cough*), or just remain in your glass because a wine wasn’t fermented to full dryness. Now sometimes that’s the style of wine, and that’s totally cool. But if you’re having a dry red or white, wine shouldn’t actually have that much, if any, sugar content. I’ll discuss this more in a future post, but let’s just say, this could be a major source of those wine headaches. 

Animal Byproducts

Say what? If you’ve ever seen wine labeled as “vegan,” you may have wondered why that’s necessary. It’s because things like isinglass (fish bladder), egg whites, casein (a dairy protein), and others are often used in the fining process of a wine. Yeah, I’ll take my wine without fish bladder, thanks. 

Synthetic Pesticides and Herbicides

Vineyards are sprayed with all sorts of chemicals to protect the fruit, and grapes are in the top 5 fruits with the most pesticide residue. We seek out organic produce, grains, you name it- but why aren’t we doing so when we drink? 

High Sulfites

Sulfites are natural compounds, so they actually aren’t a bad thing in small doses and catch a bad rap as the headache culprit. Less than 1% of the population actually has a sulfite allergy, and sulfites serve a great purpose in winemaking. But like anything, they should be in moderation. While a conventional bottle of wine may have up to 350ppm (parts per million), we cap our allowance at around 50ppm. 

I could go on, but I’ll save it for more detailed posts in the future. Point being, there are reasons we feel like crap after drinking wine, other than just the alcohol. Unfortunately, consumers have no truly transparent way to find out if a wine does or doesn’t contain these products. It’s becoming more common to find wines that are made more naturally, and there are ways to look for them that I will explain in another post. I love seeing the movement towards engaged wine drinkers, and that is a big reason I joined a company doing just that...we deserve to understand what we consume and how it’s made! I’m curious, which part of this surprised you the most, and what would you like to learn more about?  

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As a Scout & Cellar Wine Consultant and full time Sign Language Interpreter, Laura believes in truly loving what you do every day. After leaving the actress life in LA, she moved to Nashville four years ago, and continues to find more that she loves about the city. Community is key to Laura, so don’t be surprised if she cooks you a meal, pours you a glass, and dives into deep conversation; you'll be friends in no time.