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Uncorking the 'secret' ingredients in wine

Should all wine bottles have an ingredients label?
Should all wine bottles have an ingredients label?
Flickr/Max and Dee

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One of the true beauties of wine is its simplicity...grapes, oak, and time. Well, not so fast. What many vinophiles don’t realize is that most wines aren’t nearly that simple.

In the pursuit of exactly the right flavor, most vintners add ingredients to wine in an attempt to shape what comes out of the bottle. Sulphur dioxide gives it longer shelf life, enzymes make it dryer, sugar lengthens the fermentation process, and sturgeon bladder clarifies the color. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg that is the recipe for a great glass of chardonnay or shiraz.

So why, then, with all that’s being added, aren’t wineries required to list these ingredients on their bottles? A few wines already do it, but the majority of winemakers would rather not. Do they have something to hide? Or do they just think we’d rather not know? Do you think an ingredients label on a $50 bottle of pinot noir makes it more or less drinkable?


Jon Bonné, Wine Editor, “San Francisco Chronicle;” Author of forthcoming “The New California Wine”