Many people love wine. For those who enjoy this beverage, it may be deemed as one of life’s great pleasures. Archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest known production of wine, made by fermenting grapes, took place possibly as early as 6,000 BC.
Most of us have heard that red wine contains a chemical called resveratrol which has cardio protective benefits. We also know that drinking too much can cause cirrhosis of the liver and alcoholism. However, the topic of this article is not about how alcohol affects your health. It is about what you may not know that exists inside your bottle of wine.
No matter whether you are drinking a $200 bottle of French wine or merely a Two-Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s, has it ever occurred to you that you may be ingesting pesticides, heavy metals, and a whole sleuth of additives? If you are already trying to stay healthy by buying grass-fed meats and organic fruits and vegetables, why would you not worry about what you drink on a regular basis, or several times a week?
In the following, we will look at some shocking information about what may be present in your wine and how to pick wine that does not contain these unsavory ingredients.
9 Out Of 10 French Wines Contain Pesticides
The wine trade journal Decanter reports a recent study of more than 300 French wines that only 10% of those tested were clean of any traces of pesticides and fungicides. Although all of the individual pesticide residues appeared at levels below limits set by the French environmental agency, some samples turned up with as many as 9 separate pesticides!
In France, vineyards represent just 3% of agricultural land but the wine industry accounts for 80% of fungicide use. The most worrying part is that even though individual molecules were below threshold levels of toxicity, there is a lack of research into the long-term accumulation effect and how the molecules may interact with each other – which means, a pesticide mix may be more toxic than the sum of its parts.
Another survey by Pesticide Action Network Europe found similar results. All the conventional wines included in the analysis contained pesticides, with one containing 10 different pesticides!
What about American wines? Unfortunately, there is hardly any study of this sort for domestically produced wines; but like in France, conventional viticulture in the U.S. tends to be fairly pesticide-intensive too.
Additionally, don’t forget that grapes are on the Dirty Dozen list, being one of the top 12 produce with the most pesticide residue. Winemakers generally do not wash the grapes before pulping them, so all the pesticides found on the average grape will likely end up inside your wine glass.
Heavy Metals Found in Wine
Heavy metals are widely dispersed in the environment. The presence of heavy metals in our food chain poses immense problems to health. These metals accumulate in our organs and overtime promote oxidative damage in cells, a key part of chronic inflammation which may lead to cancer and many other degenerative diseases.
In 2008, a study by Kingston University in London analyzed wines from 15 countries throughout Europe, South America, and the Middle East. It found that many wines contain heavy metals up to 200 times the amount considered safe. The metal ions that accounted for most of the contamination were vanadium, copper, and manganese. But four other metals with above safety levels were zinc, nickel, chromium, and lead.
THQ, or Target Hazard Quotient, is a risk assessment system developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designed to determine the safe levels of frequent, long-term exposure to various chemicals and compounds. A THQ value of 1 is considered safe. Values over 1 indicate a health risk. 강남풀싸롱
The study found that typical wines have THQs ranging from 50 to 200 per glass, but some wines had THQs exceeding 300. To provide some perspective, seafood considered dangerous usually falls between a THQ of 1 and 5.
The worst wines were from Hungary and Slovakia which had THQs exceeding 350. Wines from France, Austria, Spain, Germany, and Portugal registered THQs over 100. Wines from Italy, Brazil, and Argentina showed safe metal levels.
What about U.S. wines? Again, there is hardly any data available concerning the contamination of domestic wines.
However, a 2011 Consumer Report which tested 88 samples of apple juice and grape juice purchased in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut found that 10% of those samples had total arsenic levels exceeding federal drinking-water standards of 10 parts per billion (ppb) and 25% had lead levels higher than the 5 ppb limit for bottled water set by the Food and Drug Administration. If heavy metals like arsenic and lead were to be found in apple juice and grape juice, you would have to expect some will probably find their way to the wine too.
Hidden Additives And Allergens In Wine
Most people who are not involved in winemaking may not be aware that the production of wine actually involves a great amount of additives. In the old days, the original intention of using additives was to stabilize the wine and to make it last longer. But nowadays, winemaking is as sophisticated as food processing, whereby a whole arsenal of synthetic chemicals are utilized to correct and manipulate the products of mother nature in good and bad years. Such performance enhancers can improve body and mouth feel, take away the greenness of a wine, mask defects, deepen color, and add flavors.