Most people drink a glass of wine to help them relax after a long day, or to enjoy with a really great meal. Wine, in moderation, should make you feel good, but have you ever experienced the opposite from just one glass of wine? It hardly seems fair. Most people chalk it up to alcohol levels, or dehydration, but other factors could be contributing to that feeling of, well,… ickiness.
When looking at a label on a bottle of wine, it appears to contain only grapes. You can also see the varietals, the alcohol percentage, and if it contains sulfites. Most consumers don’t realize 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 – both intentionally (and 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?
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.
What is Velcorin?
Velcorin (dimethyl dicarbonate (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. 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.
It is an increasingly controversial ingredient and is considered toxic material and hazardous the first 4 hours it is added to liquid. Only a professional is allowed to handle the ingredient, and companies are not required by law to indicate if they’ve used it.
Is Velcorin Safe?
Velcorin in high doses is lethal. It is odorless and can be absorbed through the skin, eyes, and nose. If wine is ingested where Velcorin is just added (within 24 hours) it can be dangerous. 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, there are options.
How Can I Find A Wine That Is Velcorin Free?
It can be hard to find wines without Velcorin, but they do exist. 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 wine making companies and you can learn more here.
What are 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.
For a wine to be considered organic, it cannot be grown with the use of artificial chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides.
Glyphosate/Roundup in Wine
Roundup is the most used herbicide in the world. The active ingredient in Roundup is Glyphosate. 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.
Until late 2018, it was widely believed that there wasn’t a single vineyard in California that was glyphosate free. One wine company (out of ALL California wines) was recently certified Glyphosate Free. Learn more about their process and why this was so important here.
The good news is yes, 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. Together, we can change the wine industry.