A Genuine Vinous Scare for Halloween!!

In 2006 we got the revolutionary “Contains Sulphites” printed on all our back labels to either remind us that maybe nature needs a little occasional assistance or to warn us that our wine contains some chemical additive.

You will get plenty of advice on which wine to drink with pumpkin and Transylvanian stew elsewhere. Here we will give you the real willies by outlining some of the lovely chemicals legally used in winemaking and their effects on us mortals.

Sulphur dioxide

Is a toxic gas produced by burning sulphur, it dissolves in water giving sulphurous acid.Sulphurdioxide is very useful stuff, it is released nowadays by using potassium metabisulphate(the little sachet of white powder you get in home brew kits!) so this gets into your wine and reacts releasing sulphur dioxide. Alternately you can pump the gas in from a cylinder but watch out for leaks. It is used as an antiseptic and antioxidant in wine production. Residual levels tend to be higher in sweet wines. In moderate concentrations, it can cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems especially for asthmatics. It is also a noxious air pollutant that carbon based power stations see fit to filter from their emissions. It is not recommended to dispose of this chemical into fish ponds

Potassium Ferrocyanide

Use of this chemical is restricted and only to be used under the supervision of a qualified chemist. Always check the chemists credentials ( because a fellow wearing a very smart looking white coat delivered a  sofa to my house recently !) Iron and copper are present just about everywhere in this world, so this chemical is used to “fine” them out of your wine.  Copper is quite a toxic metal and Iron can cause a deposit or a murkiness if present in high concentrations in wine.  Now after treatment you should have a low level of iron left, because if you don’t you have a low level of Potassium ferrocyanide left, which guess what; can be toxic and really should not be consumed.

And maybe your chemist should be delivering sofas!

Contact with acids liberates a very toxic gas –get out of the way! Do not dispose of it in your goldfish bowl and if you flush it down the toilet it will have quite a devastating impact on the nearby aquatic life as well.

In 2002 two Moroccan nationals were arrested inRomewith a quantity of this chemical and maps and plans for the water main to theUSembassy. But don’t worry it’s only in your wine.

Gum Arabic or E414 or Glue or paint binder. Used as a colour stabilizer for wines that are intended to be consumed young. It’s not toxic but is better in marshmallows, Gouache paint and tubes of glue.

Sorbic acid; this is used for stopping the action of yeast without killing them thus preventing exploding bottles on supermarket shelves. Close to its permitted limit many astute tasters can detect the aromas of geranium leaf. Quite dangerous but not used much any more. This stuff can cause ,hyperactivity, allergic reactions and is a nasty all round irritant.

Metatartaric Acid, produced secretly in gas centrifuges inIran……! !this stuff stops the formation of those cute little tartrate crystals in your white wines. Usually found in generous quantities in bag in box wines. Pretty harmless but really unnecessary as it‘s use is solely cosmetic.

Ascorbic acid or vitamin C used as a strong anti oxidant the downside is that a by product of it hydrogen peroxide which is an oxidant and causes wines to go brown in colour. Too much of this gives you diarohea , allergic reactions, stomach upsets and blond hair.


Oh ! and always remember it’s not “Organic Wine” it’s “Wine made from organically grown grapes.”  There is a difference!


About winephantom

The recession has hit hard, no more tipping the last 1/2 glass out of the champagne bottle because it's a tad too warm. My lender would be kicking down my door for his interest if he knew I was drinking at all. Now I spend my time with the €5-€10 bottles discovering some real value and encountering some swamp donkeys to be avoided. This blog is a Wine Diploma holding palate, forced to trawl the murky depths populated by the bare knuckle fighters of the "entry level" wine world, trying to reveal the real crackers. Tasting notes exposed!! Regular explanations of the rubbish that are tasting notes! Wine Waffle indeed! Stories and trivia about wine.
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