Food: Wine ingredients & labels explained - PressFrom - US

FoodWine ingredients & labels explained

13:37  12 september  2019
13:37  12 september  2019 Source:

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As you pull the cork from a freshly opened bottle of wine and pour yourself a large glass, you close your eyes and take a sip. You begin to wonder: Are there strawberries in this wine? How about flowers? How did they incorporate all these flavors? A glass of wine is not just a glass of grape juice, but let’s get one thing clear: No strawberries or flowers are ever used as wine ingredients.

Wine ingredients & labels explained© dvulikaia, Getty Images Photo of wine bottle on flat-lay

Wineries make it difficult to know every ingredient used in their wines. According to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, “Nutrition information on labels of alcohol beverages is unnecessary and unwarranted.” You won’t find much information on the bottle other than the type of grapes, whether they’re organic, or if sulfites are used.

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If you think wine is just fermented grapes, think again. Here's a list of 10 ingredients that you probably didn't know was in your favorite wine . Alluring graphics and clever packaging aside, wine labels can often be misleading. Although they list important facts like grape varieties, region and alcohol content

Ingredient labeling for wine seems to make perfect sense, but the devil is in the details. Despite several concerted attempts, some dating back 40 years, it hasn't happened yet, in part because making wine is not like bottling soda pop or mixing cereal. In those, ingredients are the same as contents.

So how can you ever know what’s actually in the wines you’re drinking? Let’s break it down.


First things first: To make wine, you need grape must. That’s freshly crushed grape juice with solids containing the skins and seeds.


Two types of yeast are used in wine making. The first is wild yeast, which is exactly as it sounds: from the wild. Naturally existing yeast in the air clings to surfaces in the vineyard, and eventually, the grapes ferment while the yeast eats the natural sugar in the wine must.

The second is cultured yeast that is added to the grape must. It produces consistent and reliable results, but it’s generally not preferred by winemakers. This is used more often to keep a desired characteristic in the wine consistent.

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Donkey & Goat started labeling the ingredients on some 2014 wines after owner and winemaker Jared Brandt read that Ridge Vineyards in Cupertino, Calif. had started sharing theirs publicly. Brandt adopted the practice as “a way to explain our wines and be transparent,” he says.

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Yes, sugar is a common wine ingredient — but most of it is converted into alcohol, so there’s no unnecessary or unwanted sweetness. As the amount of alcohol rises in wine, the level of sugar drops. If you’re worried about sugar, go for a dry wine.


Certain acids are added to a wine for various reasons. For example, tartaric acid lowers the pH to a level at which many bacteria cannot live, and it acts as a preservative after fermentation. Naturally occurring in fruit and sometimes added, it occasionally causes crystals to form on the cork.

Malic acid in wine turns into lactic acid — yes, think milk — in a process called malolactic fermentation, producing the creamy flavor and texture in your favorite buttery Chardonnay.


Sulfur isn’t a bad thing in wine; it’s used to kill unwanted bacteria and yeast. This ultimately stabilizes and allows the wine to last longer. Some people are sensitive to sulfur, but this really only affects about 1 percent of the population.

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Many wines contain added ingredients like gluten, coloring agents, and animal byproducts. What makes a wine organic, sustainable, or biodynamic? The suspicious lack of nutrition labels on alcoholic beverages may leave you thinking vodka is just vodka, beer is just beer, and wine is just wine .

Mythbuster coming at you: Sulfur does not cause headaches; dehydration does. Wines with more than 20 ppm (parts per million) must be labeled with “contains sulfites.” Steer clear of those if you really are concerned about or sensitive to sulfur, but keep in mind that the dried fruits you buy from the grocery store have four to 10 times more sulfites than wine.

Another few tips to keep in mind if you are sulfite-conscious:

A USDA organic seal of approval means the wine is made with 100 percent certified organic ingredients, meaning all yeast and sulfur dioxide are naturally occurring in wine, not added. No sulfite statement is required on the label, because the levels are so low.

If a label says “made with organic grapes,” the winemaking process isn’t necessarily organic. It still might contain sulfites but at a level less than 100 ppm.

The cheaper the wine, the more likely it is that the wine uses additional ingredients to keep the wine consistent and tasting good.

Keep in mind: Every country has its own rules. If you do have a sensitivity, contact the winery directly.

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Wine is one of the few commercial goods lacking a list of ingredients on the label as for all intents and purposes, it is a pretty natural product. After all, grapes naturally contain sugar in the juice and yeast on the skin - all the necessary elements to turn themselves into wine .

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This is the process of polishing or finishing the wine before it’s bottled, sometimes using egg whites. Crazy, right? The proteins in the egg whites bind to proteins suspended in the wine, ultimately making the wine easy to strain. Unfortunately for vegans, there’s no way to know if this process is used unless you look for a wine specifically advertised as vegan.

Wine labels don’t list every product used to make their wine, but now you’ll know a few things to look for when choosing a bottle.

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