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The FDA's requirements on food labeling are here a quote: "Should water be listed as an ingredient? Answer: Water added in making a food is considered to be an ingredient. The added water must be identified in the list of ingredients and listed in its descending order of predominance by weight. If all water added during processing is subsequently removed by baking or some other means during processing, water need not be declared as an ingredient." As well the Canadian Food Inspection Agency defines them as 'processing aids' and does not require they be listed when there is no or negligible residuals remaining in the final product Here's their list of processing aids exempt from labeling; 1. Hydrogen for hydrogenation purposes, currently exempt under B.01.008 2. Cleansers and sanitisers 3. Head space flushing gases and packaging gases 4. Contact freezing and cooling agents 5. Washing and peeling agents 6. Clarifying or filtering agents used in the processing of fruit juice, oil, vinegar, beer, wine and cider (The latter three categories of standardized alcoholic beverages are currently exempt from ingredient listing.) 7. Catalysts that are essential to the manufacturing process and without which, the final food product would not exist, e.g., nickel, copper, etc. 8. Ion exchange resins, membranes and molecular sieves that are involved in physical separation and that are not incorporated into the food 9. Desiccating agents or oxygen scavengers that are not incorporated into the food 10. Water treatment chemicals for steam production Processing ingredients that are then later removed, such as fining agents, would not be required to be listed as they essentially do not exist in the finished product. Fining agents, animal products or otherwise, would not be required to be listed. They've been removed from the finished wine. Vegetarians are left holding their breath hoping there are no residuals left behind. Or as little as they would personally deem acceptable. Mega Purple is a grape concentrate so at best a label would have to say "grapes and grape concentrate". Wines with residual sugars would only need to list sugar as an ingredient if it was added to the wine. If no sugar was added and fermentation was stopped before all the natural grape sugars were turned to alcohol then sugar would not be an ingredient here, though the wine is sweet. Yeasts would only need to be listed for wines left on the lees, like some sparklers. But those that have been disgorged may not need to list yeast as an ingredient, it's been removed. Still wines that have been fined and filtered have had the yeast residues removed and in that case would have been a processing aid, not an ingredient. Quite possibly the same for malolactic bacteria. "Natural" wines don't use added yeasts, just those naturally present on the grape skins, again no need to add yeast as an ingredient, it's already a competent of the grape. Yeast nutrients may be added but they in turn are consumed by the yeasts. Other processing ingredients like calcium carbonate or potassium bicarbonate to reduce acidity, or potassium bitartrate (cream of tartar) to assist in cold stabilization, end up forming crystals that precipitate out of the wine later. Again, no need to list them, they are gone from the finished product. I would even say that oak aging in a barrel is a process. The tannins and vanillins and esters, etc.. that get transferred into the wine from the oak would likely be exempt from ingredient lists. Their concentrations are very small, likely under required thresholds, and that list would get rather long as their are oodles of flavor components beyond the more well known ones being transferred during oak aging. What you may end up with for an ingredient list for most wines is simply : grapes, sulfur dioxide as a preserving agent. That's it. Some cheaper and mass produced commodity wines might have an ingredient list of: grapes and grape concentrate, sugar, citric (or malic or tartaric) acid, sulfur dioxide as a preserving agent. You probably won't see much variation between those two sets of ingredient lists. At least in terms of what would be legally required to be listed. Wine and alcoholic beverages are currently exempt from the rules that apply to most foods but if labeling became a requirement it's very likely it would just have the same rules. To expect anything more from wine labeling would mean an entire re-write of the rules on all food labeling. If wine is exempt now how could you ever expect it to require more than other foods do now? As to what was said about "process" and IP. Wineries would not need to disclose things like leaving the mash to sit for 8 days vs 10 days before fermentation. How often do they punch that mash down during fermentation? Or what strain of yeasts do they like to use? How much toast do they like on their barrels? A winery could always choose to disclose all that in as much or as little detail as they like. Their website would be the place for that. As a wine geek I would not mind seeing a bit more detail than just "we selected our best grapes and aged the wine in French and American Oak barrels for 12 months". Perhaps there is a market niche for wines that specifically dont use any animal by-products as fining agents or stabilizing agents, and choose to highlight that fact in order to cater directly to the vegans and vegetarians? Or at least to those that care if there might still be some egg white in there at about 1 part per 10 million. So really, the disclosure, how much or how little, is up the the winery. Until enough consumers demand otherwise, and then governments step in and force wine to follow the same guidelines as other foods you simply wont see detailed ingredient lists. If it becomes required some consumers may be disappointed in how little actually gets listed. Wineries need not fear ingredient lists, if they became required. The lists would be as basic, or more so, than many foods we already consume and customers will very quickly become accustomed to them. I even doubt many would steer away from their favorite cheap wines when they see grape concentrate listed. Even Bonny Doon are being somewhat selective of their 'disclosure' and it comes largely from a marketing stance. They mention the process, and admittedly they do mention parts of the process that could un-nerve some customers (bentonite, copper sulfate) but also skirt things by saying 'yeast nutrients' which may actually be a mix of diammonium phosphate, dipotassium phosphate, magnesium sulfate, amino acids and other compounds. Boony Doon labels have been this "transparent" since 2007-2008. Good on them. But has it impacted the market place? Have other wine makers felt the need to jump on the bandwagon else be left behind by consumers wanting transparency? The answer is no. We wine geeks, wine bloggers, and other serious wine enthusiasts are a mere fraction of the wine consuming market. We may care more about these things. We may want to see the larger group of consumers be more informed. But frankly, we don't matter. Labeling ingredient lists and process disclosures is, so far, a non-issue. But it certainly is great wine blog discussion fodder :)
Toggle Commented Aug 17, 2012 on Wine Labels, Wine Ingredients at Maker’s Table
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Aug 16, 2012