And now essence of….well everything

Ladybugs yesterday…..milk, fish and chicken, plus lots more today. What is wine coming to? 😉

An extensive article appeared in the LA Times today (see, I told you I read lots of papers) about the fact that Congress passed a law in 2004 requiring disclosure of potential allergens in food products on labeling which is slated to affect wine labels. I’ve read other articles about this recently and seen blogs posts about in the past weeks.

I haven’t weighed in on the debate raging over requiring wine labels to have a listing of all ingredients included in a “nutrition information” section (will there be a calorie label next, because frankly I have no desire to know how many calories I consume with the volume of wine I drink) mainly because I think it’s a tad bit stupid to require a listing of things you can’t even prove are actually in there, it’s simply the potential that it might be.

I will say that some of the techniques listed are less than appealing to me. However, techniques to make all kinds of food and drink products are not all that appealing to me either. I took Food and Drug Law in law school. I read cases that would make your stomach turn.

Now what I cannot get a sense of is how frequently such methods are used in wine-making or if they are used by many producers or what. The article quotes a man named Charles Smith, the chairman of a CA company called Vinovation, Inc saying basically that he has 1200 clients for whom he transforms bad batches of wine into marketable products by the use of various additives. 1200 wineries seems like a lot, though according to this article, as of November 2006 there were 5,970 wineries in the US alone. Then again, this is only one man with one company.

So I guess my question remains, how many wineries would a labeling requirement affect? And are there known cases of anyone having an allergic reaction based on the fact that chicken( eggs, fish, etc) was used during the fining process of wine-making? I’d be curious about that.

Though I think some of the comments by the people interviewed for this article are more intriguing to me than the rest of it. The article quotes the Smith man as saying: ” “For all of the posturing about terroir, very little wine sells because it is distinctive,” Smith says. “Additives are cosmetics. They are supposed to enhance, improve a wine. [Wine enhanced this way is like] a beautiful woman whose makeup is invisible. It’s the clumsiness of the winemaker who is using the additives that is the problem.” Those wines end up tasting “tarted up,” he says, instead of improved.”

A very odd comment from a man who makes his livelihood by doing this. Additionally, the remark about wine not selling because it’s distinctive causes me to cringe and think about the oft-touted idea that wine is growing more homogenous (usually blamed by purporters of the idea on the desire of wineries for points and good ratings from various critics).

My final comment on the article is in relation to a quote from the General Counsel to the Wine Institute: “The problem with listing additives, says Lee, the Wine Institute general counsel, is it could change consumer perception of all wines. “Wine would look engineered instead of natural,” he says.”

If there are additves, isn’t it engineered?

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