By Mark Ackerman
DENVER (CBS4) – Ingredient labels are mandatory on food, beverages and in Colorado, even marijuana. But what’s in your wine is often a mystery to consumers.
Current regulations only require wine makers to disclose if sulfites used to preserve wine are present.
As wine tasters try the finest wines at Balistreri Vineyards north of Denver, they are assured what’s produced is 100 percent natural.
“All we do is crush fresh handpicked grapes,” said Julie Balisteri, whose family winery produces 80,000 bottles per year.
But according to Christopher Null at Wired Magazine, that’s not the case at most major wineries.
“The perception is that you’re drinking fermented grape juice,” said Null. “The reality is that’s not exactly true.”
Null studied what’s inside wines and found a lot of additives to go along with the grapes.
“When you drink a glass of wine, especially a relatively inexpensive glass of wine, your drinking a huge range of compounds and chemicals that you have no idea are present in the wine,” he said.
More than 200 additives are permissible in wine including, sulfites for preservation, potential allergens like dairy, wheat and egg products, gelatin for texture, and something called “mega purple” for color.
Balistreri said “it’s deceitful.” She says large scale wine makers can chemically engineer a consistent product year after year. But she’s concerned those chemicals could come with consequences.
“If you drink it every day, some of these chemicals they put in the wine are dangerous,” she said.
Other wine experts like Clara Orbon from DePaul University aren’t as concerned. She says wine has additives like any other processed food.
“I don’t think additives in wine are something to worry about,” she said. “We have very good and very strict food regulations in the United States right now.”
At a wine store you’d be hard pressed to tell which wines contain chemicals and which ones don’t. But there are clues. Balistreri says, “Often you are going topay a higher price” for wines with fewer additives. Often you can learn more by researching wine makers online. Wines labeled organic or natural often contain fewer chemicals.
But for Null, the information should be more readily available for the customer.
“I want to know what I’m eating and I want to know what I’m drinking too,” he said. “Labels should be required on wine just the way they are with any food.”