Read The Label: These Are The Chemicals You DON'T Want In Your Wine
Jul 09, 2020
This content is brought to you in partnership with SmartVine Wine — but all opinions are our own.
My mom used to tell me that she didn't like drinking wine because it gave her a headache. "Even just one glass?" I'd say, and she swore that yes, even one glass could give her a headache.
Now that I've learned about why wine actually gives people headaches (spoilers: because of what's in the wine that winemakers don't have to disclose!), I'm honestly a little worried about the kind of wine she was drinking back then.
Because now that we've switched to drinking wine without added chemicals lurking about, she can sip with me without worrying about the headache that might ensue!
Wait, what should I be looking for on a wine label then?
To be totally honest, when you're looking at a label on a bottle of wine, it usually appears to contain only grapes. You can typically also see the varietals, the alcohol percentage, and if it contains sulfites.
But what most consumers don’t realize is that a lot of other chemicals and ingredients come into contact with grapes, the soil they’re grown in, and during the winemaking process.
And, depending on how the wine is made and where it is harvested, there’s a high probability there are trace amounts of pesticides in the bottle. That is also NOT listed on the label!
It’s time to understand a couple of items that are sometimes intentionally (and sometimes unintentionally) added to wines:
Maybe these words sound vaguely familiar, but how do they affect our bodies? Why are they found in wine in the first place? And, most importantly, are there alternatives?
We spoke with Christine Fitzgerald, a nutritionist and the founder of Smartvine Wine, to find the answers.
What is velcorin?
Many ingredients that are added to wine in the fermentation process are not required by law to be on the label. And this regulatory pass allows many winemakers to slip unsatisfactory items into wine; fish bladders, sulfur dioxide (more on that below), animal gelatin, and velcorin.
"Velcorin (dimethyl dicarbonate or DMDC) is used in killing yeasts and living bacteria in wine, soda, and sports drinks. It is added as an easy solution to filter wine," Christine explained. "When Velcorin is added, this liquid chemical simply 'kills off' any unwanted bacteria or yeast, without potentially losing gallons of wine that would be lost in a chemical-free filtering process."
Okay, so far that doesn't sound so bad, right?
"It is an increasingly controversial ingredient and is considered toxic material and hazardous the first 4 hours it is added to liquid," Christine went on. "Only a professional is allowed to handle the ingredient, and companies are not required by law to indicate if they’ve used it."
As it turns out, velcorin in high doses is lethal. It is odorless and can be absorbed through the skin, eyes, and nose. If wine is ingested after Velcorin was just added (within 24 hours), it can be dangerous — but after that 24 hour time period, Velcorin in small doses is considered "safe" to consume.
If that leaves you feeling uneasy, or wanting an alternative, good news: There are other options!
"It can be hard to find wines without Velcorin, but they do exist," Christine said. "Many winemakers use clay or diatomaceous earth to filter their wines. These ingredients act almost like a sand to capture large organisms in the wine, and filter them out."
Typically, this filtration method is used by vegan winemaking companies and you can learn more here.
Okay, but what about pesticides?
A broader term for any substance used to kill plants, insects, fungus, small rodents, or bacteria. In wine making, common pesticides are herbicides; the most prevalent being Roundup.
And for a wine to be considered "organic," it cannot be grown with the use of artificial chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides.
"Roundup is the most used herbicide in the world, and the active ingredient in Roundup is Glyphosate," Christine explained. "Due its widespread use, traces of Glyphosate have been found in everything from our water, to food, to hair, to urine, and more. Study up on the 10 Things You Need to Know About Glyphosate; it’s worth your time."
And real talk: Until late 2018, it was widely believed that there wasn’t a single vineyard in California that was glyphosate free.
So... Do I have to stop buying wine now? This is scary!
There are alternatives in wine that do NOT contain pesticides and velcorin. They might not be as prevalent, but they are out there.
"The more consumers research and speak out about what they want in their wine, the more apt the wine business is to change their practices," Christine added. "Together, we can change the wine industry."
The SmartVine Wine Difference
Here's the part where we get a little sales-y — but for good reason!
Everything that we just listed above as a reason that you could end up with a wine headache? Yeah, SmartVine Wine has NONE of that.
It's certified vegan, 100% free of added chemicals, has no added sulfates, contains only 1 gram of sugar in the entire bottle, and is the only certified glyphosphate-free wine in the world.
Beyond that, SmartVine Wines are also packed with anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredients that are shown to actively aid in reducing bloat, headaches, and hangovers.
The proprietary, certified organic "day-after remedy" added to each bottle includes lemon peel, chicory, turmeric, and muscadine grape skins. But those nutrients are added in liquid form, naturally infused and blended with the wine over time. So you won't have any sediment, and you won't taste the nutrients — just the flavors of a really great glass of wine.
Want to try it? Use code WFYB for 40% off a 3-pack of SmartVine Wine red, white, and rose! Click here to shop now.
Because none of us should have to feel guilty when we pour ourselves a glass of wine. Don't undo all the hard work you put into living a healthy and active lifestyle. Feel good about the wine you're drinking. Period.