Have you seen those pop-up ads on social media promoting a new generation of wines made with no added sugar, no sulfites and no sketchy additives? Of course you have! They’re everywhere! And guess what? Those pop-ups aren’t lying when they say that all the other wines are shit.
Seriously. Wines made in the traditional manner of yesteryear by established producers are CHOCK FULL of insidious additives—things even the winemaker doesn’t know about and wouldn’t reveal to the likes of you if he did.
Now, you may be wondering, if these sleazy practices are so widespread, where is the evidence? Bitch, would Cameron Diaz lie? It also happens that I have spent my entire career as a journalist covering the inner workings of the wine industry. So I know things.
It’s high time the public was finally let in on conventional wine’s dirty secrets, and I am ready to spill. In the name of total honesty, transparency and “clean wine” supremacy, here are just some of the nasty substances that may be lurking in your glass. Right. This. Minute!
Albumen (egg white): For centuries, winemakers have used egg whites to clarify wine. This is offensive to both vegans and chickens.
MOG: This cute little acronym stands for "material other than grapes," but the reality is far from adorable. During the heat of crush, after the 10th consecutive day of 15-hour shifts, damn near anything could in up in the hopper with the Cabernet clusters. We're talking insects, field mice, and the occasional human finger. Remember the wood-chipper scene in the movie "Fargo"? You get the idea.
Mega Purple: This concentrate pumps up the color in red wines and contributes a touch of sweetness without technically adding sugar—which is a no-no (aka: illegal AF) in California. A little-known fact about Mega Purple, which I might have just made up, is that it’s not actually made from Rubired grapes, as its makers claim, but babies’ blood.
Circus Peanuts: Fancy-ass oak barrels don’t come cheap, and even oak chips cost a pretty penny. What’s a budget-minded, wood-loving winemaker to do? Enter Circus Peanuts. Pound for pound, the banana-flavored, peanut-shaped marshmallow candy [editor’s note: WTF? Who came up with this unholy combination?] is 50% cheaper than oak adjuncts—and adds an intriguing note of marshmallow fluff to wine that some folks might mistake for the influence of American oak. Problem solved!
Cat Hair: For decades, sulfites have unfairly taken the blame for binge drinkers’ red-wine "allergies.” Don’t be so naïve! Feline fur has long been used by winemakers to add texture to both reds and whites. In natural wine circles, the residual hair is passed off as the result of the winemaker’s bold decision to forego fining and filtering.
Hot Dog Water: You think that meaty character in your Syrah comes from grapes? Think again! While it’s not allowed in California to add water during the winemaking process, there’s nothing in TTB law that bans the use of the savory elixir that results from boiling frankfurters to hot, steamy perfection.
Cryobank Rejects: What do you suppose happens to the sperm donations no one wants? If you’re thinking the janitor flushes them down the sperm bank toilet you would be oh-so wrong! I have it on good authority from Tucker Carlson’s YouTube show that winemakers frequently troll the Cryomart black market for squirts they can snap up on the cheap, then blend the goods into tanks of wine to create that viscous mouthfeel the critics can’t stop raving about. Guess you won’t be needing that protein shake after all.
This is all just a drop in the ol' bucket, of course, but I don't want to lay too much Truth on the wine-drinking public all at once. The only way to avoid all these horrifying substances is to purchase your wines exclusively from Facebook pop-up ads, like the Good Lord and Cameron Diaz intended. See y'all in Avaline!
[Images by Unsplash]