Okay, truth be told, I’m no Star Wars expert, but conventional winemaking can get pretty shady. While reputable AOCs can mandate winemaking practices from vine spacing and yields to aging and final alcohol levels, chemical additives are still largely unregulated - and there are many! Here's a brief overview so you can know what you're not drinking when you shop at Domestique.
The most well-known additive is Sulfur Dioxide, used to stabilize and preserve wines at bottling. Sulfur often gets a bad rap - under 50 ppm and you’re sitting pretty; the wine is stable in bottle and there are no negative health impacts. However, industrial wines tend to add three times that amount at bottling, up to 150 ppm! And consuming excess sulfur dioxide can cause flushing, hives, and even digestive problems (aka 💩).
In the US, sulfites are the only additive that you’re required to disclose on a label. Curious what else could be lurking in that grocery store bottle of vino? All of these are common additives used in commercial winemaking:
* Ammonium Sulfite - another stabilizer/casual neurotoxin that is known to cause nausea and vomiting.
* Commercial Yeast - creates a uniform and superficial flavor. Also known to contribute to headaches.
* Sugar - we’re talking pallets of Domino, people. Added sugar helps boost the final alcohol content if grapes weren’t able to fully ripen. That’s why good wine starts in the vineyard. Also known to contribute to that pesky hangover.
* Mycotoxins - additives used elsewhere to dissolve plastics. In winemaking, they’re used to clarify cloudy wines. News flash! "Clear" wine has nothing to do with taste and everything to do with aesthetic.
* Fungicides - this is common with any agricultural product not organically farmed.
* Arsenic??? (Actually)
* Mega-Purple & Ultra-Red - concentrated grape juice syrup used to add sugar and color to a wine. If you’re drinking red wine and your teeth start to stain after a single glass, you can bet one of these dyes has been added. These are often used to boost the perception of quality.
* Gelatin, Animal Byproducts, and Eggs - all used as clarifying agents.
The good news? Natural, organic, and biodynamic wines eschew nasty additives to produce seasonal, terroir-driven wines that are reflective of the hands that made them.
As a minimum requirement, all the wines at Domestique are organically grown, fermented with wild yeasts, and bottled with minimal sulfur if any, so you can knock back a glass (or three) and feel pretty dang good about it.
- Casey Wrath