Winemakers turn to science to spice up their vino

People have been making and drinking wine for thousands of years, and its allure can stretch beyond just its taste.

It turns out many makers of mass-produced wine are using chemical additives and new technologies to change the flavor.

"Food & Wine" Magazine Executive Wine Editor Ray Isle joined "CBS This Morning: Saturday" to explain why so many winemakers are turning to science to save their vino.

"In mass market wines, it's fairly common actually," Isle said. "When you're making a million cases of wine or something like that, you want a consistent product. It's not different from the food industry."

Some additives include sulfer dioxide, water, oak adjuncts, tartaric acid, sugar, pectic enzymes, gum Arabic, velcorin and mega purple. The additives help give the wine color and a little more flavor.

Isle said most of the additives are not harmful, but it's a bit odd because it goes against the idea of organic production: "It's not so much chemicals. A lot of the additives are naturally-occurring [that] are sort of like boosters," he said.

But there are some things that winemakers use that are a little disconcerting, since additives are not listed on the bottles.

"There's velcorin, which is a sterilan (which is used in the juice and sports drink business a lot) which will just zap anything living in the wine, which is nice -- it won't re-ferment in the bottle. In theory at least, according to scientists, velcorin breaks down to alcohol and carbon dioxide.

"On the other hand, you have to use a hazmat suit to add the stuff," he said.

Isle noted there are two opposing movements in the wine industry on whether to list additives on the bottles. Currently, wine is regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and not the Food and Drug Administration.

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