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Berger: So-called ‘toxic wine’

Winemakers around the world generally agree that it would be a bad idea to require disclosure of precisely what is in a bottle of wine.

In theory an ingredient label might be nice, but such a label would be outrageously expensive to wineries and ultimately the consumer, would totally confuse the public, and have no positive benefit whatever.

I’m in agreement with wineries. The only result of an ingredient label would be to scare off wine consumers who might think that they would be getting a chemical soup.

Just about every bottle of grape wine in this world is made up of the fermented juice of grapes, leaving the bottle with some alcohol, some water, a tiny amount of flavors that came from the grape, and trace amounts of things like acids and sugars.

There are many legal additives to wine, but almost no one uses huge amounts of them. Wine actually is safer than some cities’ tap water — and it usually tastes better, too.

Some alarmists suggest that wine has yeast and fining (clarifying) agents such as eggs. They claim that since all wine is made using yeast (to start the fermentation) and some of it is fined using egg whites, people with allergies have something to fear.

Nonsense. Almost all wine is clarified or filtered to remove elements used in its production. Decades ago, testing methods weren’t anywhere near as accurate as they have become, and back then we could find nothing in wine but fermented grape juice.

But testing methods have come a long way since the time when we could find things down to parts per million. Today’s detection methods allow for us to find things in parts per trillion, and at such levels, yes, there may be minute traces of things in wine that weren’t there before.

Well, they were; we just couldn’t detect them. And at the levels we can now find them, they are utterly harmless.

So I was amused the other day when a report out of Bloomberg News said French scientists tested 92 bottles of wine for pesticides and found traces in every bottle. It sounds like a scandal.

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