In Vino Veritas...
In Vino Veritas…
…is a popular Latin phrase that means In wine lies the truth, suggesting a person under the influence of alcohol is more likely to speak their hidden thoughts and desires.
While this phrase is likely true as it pertains to how drinking can affect one’s behavior, it’s unfortunately the opposite in most instances with the information, or lack of, presented on wine labels and advertisements.
When letting your mind freely wander about winemaking, you might envision rows and rows of grapevines extending over the horizon laden with plump juicy fruit to be delicately harvested then skillfully crafted by authentic fermenting traditions into that magical liquid you love and appreciate so much.
In the real world, the winemaking process bears little resemblance to this ideal. Grapes are harvested, crushed and processed with the help of sanitized and sophisticated equipment, and winemakers add specially formulated ingredients in precise quantities to give each wine its own distinctive quality and taste.
Unlike other food and beverages, wine bottles do not require a nutrition label or an ingredients label. This is because wine labeling falls under the authority of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) rather than the FDA.
So what exactly goes into your favorite wine?
In the United States, wine producers can use 76 different additives in wine, without disclosing any of them on the bottle.
Commercial wine producers use additives for consistency—they’re making millions of bottles, and they want them all to look and taste the same. That means adding defoaming agents, artificial coloring (virtually every red wine under $20 has the colorant “mega purple”), extra sugar, high fructose corn syrup, ammonia (part of the reason low-quality wine makes you nauseous the next morning), and genetically modified bacteria and yeasts.
All these additives offer companies such tight control over their wine that nature’s seasons no longer matter. Every wine will taste the same, year after year and bottle after bottle.
Most commercial wines are bottled before they fully ferment to speed up production and maximize profits. Some producers also add sugar or high fructose corn syrup to their wine, a process called chaptalization, to appeal to a sweeter American palate. Sugar is also a culprit in hangovers.
It’s impossible to make a completely sulfite-free wine because wine yeast produces sulfur dioxide (SO2) during the fermentation process. The level of sulfites in wine is measured in “PPM, parts per million.” In the US, conventional wines can contain up to 350ppm. Natural winemakers use little or no sulfur, resulting in less than 40ppm.
For a wine to be considered “natural,” it must meet specific criteria as follows:
Natural wines are farmed organically and/or biodynamically, and are dry farmed.
Nothing is added to natural wines during production. This includes no chemical additives for aroma, color, flavor, or texture enhancement.
There is minimal intervention in the vinification and aging in natural wines.
There is minimal to no use of filtering and fining (the process where a substance is added to wineto create an adsorbent, enzymatic or ionic bond with the suspended particles), use of new oak, addition of sulfites, and chaptalization.
Only wild native yeast are used during fermentation.
All natural winemakers share a passionate respect for nature and care deeply for their land, most of which has been passed down for many generations. There are only about 500 winemakers in the world that follow natural, organic practices, with natural wines currently making up less than 1% of the market in the U.S.
Natural wines contain living microorganisms that can survive in bottles for hundreds of years. In June 2008, Professor Dr. Jurg Gafner of the Agroscope Wadenswil Research Institute in Switzerland isolated six living microorganisms from a bottle of wine dating back to 1895. These beneficial bacteria and wild native yeasts continue to influence the wine, even as it sits in the bottle, and offer health benefits too.
Wine has been around since at least the Paleolithic time period. Evidence from that era shows that it was used for medicinal and health purposes as well as for enjoyment. Cherished moments for me are when I can get together with those I love to share an appreciation and gratitude for life and its beauty over a glass of wine… “Wine is sunlight, held together by water.” ~Galileo
We must be diligent and informed with the quality and quality-source of our food and drink choices so that we can be the healthiest and best version of our self. There are two natural wine distributors that lab test all their wines for quality, purity and exceptional taste I currently recommend—Dry Farm Wines and Scout & Cellar.
In my next writing, I’ll share the health benefits of natural wine. Until then, be well and live awesome!
I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to contact me with questions or feedback and respond to this blog with your comments.
All of the information in this writing is for educational and informational purposes only. We are passionate about leading a healthy lifestyle and aim to share that passion with you through coaching, blogs, readings, chats, social media, etc. Primary sources to ensure accurate and current content, including studies, scientific references, and statistics, are found below:
Dry Farm Wines, 2019