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The Big Long List of Wine Additives

There’s a lot that goes into good wine, but wine additives don’t have to be one of them.

 

If you’re just now joining SECCO Wine Club, you’ll quickly find we’re not a big fan of unnecessary additives. In fact, from grape to glass we ensure no toxins, extra sugar, or unnecessary additives make their way into our wines. We do this for two reasons. First, because we dry farm our grapes to ensure the truest expression of flavor. Our vineyards are in Tuscany and we love that Italian wine flavor, so why alter it with additives! 

 

Secondly, because some of the approved additives are…questionable. You’d be shocked at just how many additives vintners are allowed to use in their wines. Some of them are pretty common, however some of them are downright shocking.

 

Different Types of Wine Additives

 

Additives are often split into two categories: common and corrective. The common ones are generally used to assist with standard wine making practices. Corrective additives are where things get a little dicey. The name itself tells you they’re only used when something needs to be “corrected,” meaning that something wasn’t quite right.

 

The International Organization of Vine and Wine differentiates even further between Food Additives and Processing Aids. Processing aids don’t have to be presented on labels and they’re not always present in the finished wine. If they are, the amounts are generally negligible. These are substances or materials used for technical purposes during treatment or processing. 

 

Food additives, however, are compounds that end up staying in the wine. At first that doesn’t sound so scary. But the OIV describes them as, “any substance not normally consumed as a food by itself and not normally used as a typical ingredient of the food, whether or not it has nutritive value.” That’s a little scarier. Plus, these aren’t necessarily required on labels either. Speaking of which…

 

What Are Wine Labels Required to Display?

 

Honestly, not a lot. In fact, according to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, there are only eight items that vintners are required to display:

 

  1. Brand Name or Producer Identification
  2. Bottler’s Name and Address
  3. Varietal Designation, Class/Type
  4. Appellation of Origin, Country of Origin
  5. Alcohol Content
  6. Vintage Date
  7. Net Volume of Contents
  8. Sulfite Declaration 
  9. Health Warning Statement

 

Only one of those items has anything to do with additives. Considering how many additives might have been used, that seems like a crazy amount of items to leave off a label. 

 

At SECCO Wine Club, we like to be transparent about what goes into our wines. We use a few of the more basic items from the list below, but anything that’s unnecessary or controversial gets a big NO from us. 

 

If, however,  you’re still curious, here’s a giant list of additives you may find in wines.

 

White grapes in a vineyard - SECCO Wine Club

The Big Long List of Wine Additives

 

Acetaldehyde 

Inhibits microbial growth and stabilizes the color of wine. 

Activated Charcoal

Used to filter and improve wine color. 

Aluminum Silicates (bentonite or kaolin) 

Used to clarify/fine wine.

Ammonium Phosphate 

Accelerates fermentation.

Ascorbic Acid

Used as a preservative and/or anti-bacterial agent.

Beta Glucanase

An enzyme sometimes used to reduce sediments.

Calcium Carbonate 

Reduces the acidity of wine.

Carbon Dioxide 

Used for the creation of sparkling wine.

Casein 

Used for clarifying wine and/or removing sediment.

Catalase 

An enzyme added to counter bacterial agents in wine.

Cellulase 

An enzyme used to assist in the hydrolyzation of cellulose during fermentation.

Citric Acid

Sometimes used in white wines to increase acid levels.

Concentrated Grape Must

Often used to improve body, flavor, color.

Copper Sulfate

Suppresses bacterial growth and eliminates unwanted odors. 

Diammonium Phosphate

Helps accelerate fermentation.

Dimethyl Dicarbonate

Used as a preservative.

Distilled Alcohol

Fortifies alcohol levels.

Edible Gelatin

Used to clarify and remove sediment.

Ferrocyanide Compounds

Used to clarify and fine wines.

Ferrous Sulfate

Used to clarify wine. 

Fruit Concentrate of Same Grape Variety

Used to boost color and flavor.

Fumaric Acid

Boosts wine acidity.

Glucose oxidase

An enzyme used to stabilize the color of white wines as they age.

Granular Cork

Smooths the texture of wines. 

Gum Arabic

Used to clarify and remove sediment.

Isinglass 

Fish bladder used to clarify and remove sediment.

Lactic Acid

Boosts acidity and improves texture.

Lactic Bacteria

Reduces acidity.

Lysosome

Reduces sulfites and reduces certain bacterias.

Malic acid

Boosts wine acidity.

Mega Purple

A controversial, concentrated syrup used to correct color issues. 

Milk/Lactalbumin 

Clarifies wine and removes sediment.

Nitrogen

Used as a preservative.

Oak Chips

Improves wine flavor.

Ovalbumin (egg whites)

Clarifies wine and removes sediment.

Pectolytics

Enzymes that assist in the breakdown of pectin into pectic acid and methanol during fermentation. This tends to help clarify the wine.

Polyvinyl-Polypyr-Rolidone

Modifies the color of wine and reduces tannins. 

Potassium Bicarbonate

Reduces acidity.

Potassium Bitartrate

Stabilizes and prevents sedimentation.

Potassium Carbonate

Reduces the acidity of wine down to acid levels of 5 grams per liter only.

Potassium Caseinate

Clarifies and removes sediment. 

Potassium Metabisulphite

Inhibits bacteria and can be used as a preservative.

Potassium Sorbate

Inhibits bacteria and, when used with potassium and copper sulfites, it also functions as a preservative.

Protease

An enzyme that kills some bacterial agents and makes wine less heat-sensitive and less likely to produce sediment.

Saccharose

Increases sugar levels of wine. Not allowed in every U.S. state.

Silicon Dioxide

Filters and fines wine.

Sorbic Acid

Used as a preservative.

Soy Flour

Feeds yeast to increase and promote secondary fermentation.

Sulfur Dioxide

A preservative and anti-bacterial agent.

Tartaric Acid

Boosts acidity of wine.

Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B) 

Feeds yeast to help finish fermentation.

Urease 

Anenzyme used to reduce sediment.

Velcorin

A microbial control agent.

Water/H20

Reduces alcohol levels and  acidity. Not allowed in all U.S. states.

Yeast

Converts sugar from grapes into alcohol.

Yeast Cell Walls

During red wine production pieces of yeast cell walls absorb anthocyanins (compounds that taste bitter) to make the wine smoother.

 

A glass of white wine with no additives - SECCO Wine Club

 

Final Thoughts

 

This list isn’t meant to scare people away from wines that use additives. Some of these substances have been used to make wine for centuries. In fact, did you notice that both yeast and water were on that list? Duh!

 

What this list should tell you is that there’s a LOT that goes into wine. Because of that, you should have the option to know what those items are. Speaking of which…

 

One of our goals is to promote Wine Education!

 

As we continue to make low-carb wine that’s free of residual sugar and toxins, we want to promote more wine education. Everyone should be able to choose what they put into their bodies. That all starts by understanding what’s actually IN your food and beverages. 

 

That was one of the biggest inspirations for our PALO61 series. It’s the only wine on the market with a nutrition label, giving you the ability to see what’s in your wine and, more importantly, what isn’t.

 

If this list was enough to help you ditch the sugary, additive laden bottle you’ve had smuggled away, then great! Be sure to check out our PALO61 bottles for a healthier option that won’t leave you feeling guilty. And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for updates on all our newest blogs, featured bottles, and promotions.