The more I think about this topic the more I believe that any wine additive used throughout the winemaking process should be listed on the back of wine labels.
Some producers do this already but it’s not compulsory for wines sold in most markets. With most other foods and drinks having to list all of their ingredients and nutritional information, why should wine be exempt?
With no ingredients listed on wine labels, consumers aren’t wrong to assume that the only ingredient in their bottle is grapes. For some natural wines this can indeed be the case. And for organic and biodynamic wines, the permitted additives list is restricted and amounts of those allowed often reduced.
For wines that are made in large quantities at affordable prices, producers are more inclined to balance the acidity and sugar levels in wines to create a consistent product. This will more often than not involve using more additives like sugar, tartaric acid and sulphur dioxide. This suits consumers that are after a reliable glass of wine each time they pop that cork or unscrew the cap. For consumers that want to taste vintage variation (basically the influence of that year’s weather on the wine) it’s great to have less intervention and let the wine taste sharper if it is a cooler year, or of riper fruit flavours and a softer nature if the weather is warmer.
What I would love to see happen is producers providing consumers with more information so that they can make informed decisions when it comes to making their wine purchase.
One other point that as wine consumers we should all be aware of, is the use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides used in the vineyard and chemical use in the winery. It’s incredible how much is used in the wine industry. These can help prevent rot and mildew affecting grapes, however it does take its toll on the environment and also the health of vineyard and winery workers. There are alternative methods that are used by organic and biodynamic producers (growing cover crops between vines, introducing natural predators for pests, alternative cleaning methods for winery equipment).
By giving consumers more information about this, then they can decide which wines they are happy to pay for and enjoy sipping away on. With so many people being aware of what they’re eating, in terms of organic and local, why should wine be any different?