Up For Debate: Ingredients Lists For Wine?

Up For Debate: Ingredients Lists For Wine?

Cambria Bold
Apr 23, 2012

Have you ever thought about what goes into the wine you're drinking? I mean, really thought about it? Grapes, sunshine, soil, barrels, time all play a role, yes. But frequently so do a host of other additives, enzymes, and supplements, all of which are used to tweak and refine the wine to meet consumer expectations. This "discrepancy between public perception and cellar reality," as New York Magazine put it, has caused some winemakers to voluntarily list ingredients on their labels. But not everyone is happy about it.

This isn't new: in 2008 Randall Grahm's 2007 Ca' del Solo Muscat and Albariño revealed both the ingredients in the final product ("grapes, sulfur dioxide") and the ingredients used during the winemaking process ("Indigenous yeast, organic yeast hulls, bentonite, cream of tartar"). But the resurgence of the trend is concerning to some. Those in favor believe full label disclosure encourages "natural" winemaking, but those opposed say a long list of unfamiliar terms is likely to scare drinkers off.

Would the average drinker be glad to know his wine was clarified with isinglass, a fish-bladder extract, or its alcohol level boosted with beet sugar? "To have a long list makes it look like anti­freeze," says David Lillie, co-owner of Chambers Street Wines, who likes the idea less in practice than in theory... And for Paul Grieco, co-owner of Hearth and Terroir, what matters most is the potential effect on the wine-drinking public. "If it's going to scare ­people off, then I'm scared shitless of it."

Personally, I'm definitely in favor of an ingredients list. What do you think? Would you like to see an ingredients list on your wine label?

Read More: Wine's New Fine Print at New York Magazine and What's In a Wine? at Gourmet

Related: Discovering Vegan Wine: What? isn't All Wine Vegan?

(Image: Kevin Demaria for Gourmet Magazine)

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