NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Studies have shown that moderate amounts of red wine can be good for you.
But as CBS2’s Kristine Johnson reported, these days, it’s a lot more than grapes that end up in your glass.
No image is more synonymous with wine making than the stomping of grapes, but that’s not how the majority of wine is made today.
“It comes from industrial farms and it is made in enormous, hundreds-of-thousands-of-gallon-sized tanks,” said Chris Null of Wired Magazine.
The large scale commercialization of the industry has helped bring wine to the masses, with the average bottle now running about $10.
But like the mass production of food, most commercial wines are now made with a long list of additives, experts said.
“It is heavily doctored,” Null said.
Null investigated the mass production of wine for Wired Magazine. He said there are as many as 100 different compounds that can be added to wine today. Some, like sugar and water are innocuous, while others may raise an eyebrow or two.
“One of the most concerning is a product called Velcorin, which is an anti-microbial,” Null said.
Other additives include preservatives like sulfur, thickening agents like gelatin, a coloring called mega purple, and flavorings that include tannins and oak extract.
“If I’m drinking a nice bottle of wine, I wanted to know it was in a nice oak barrel for a certain amount of time, and not just had a few drops of chemical dropped into it,” Null said.
While Null likened the use of some of the additives to cheating, they’re all perfectly legal and widely accepted within the industry.
“We have about twelve acres of vines,” wine maker Richard Eldridge said.
Eldridge said additives can help to ensure a robust, flavorful product despite the unpredictability of grape crops.
“You want consistency to the greatest extent possible,” Eldridge said.
Wine scholar Isabelle Legeron, who has written extensively on the making of wine, said it comes down to transparency. She wants labels on the back of bottles that list a wine’s full ingredients.
“You have no idea what you are drinking and I think that’s not fair,” shes said, “I want us to be in a position of choice.”
Some wine makers do list their product’s ingredients on their website, although full disclosure is not required.