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Please Sir, There is a Fish in my Wine!

As an expat in the Qatar it is standard practice to hit the one booze warehouse we have and max out your allowance just prior to the Ramadan shut down period (the irony, I know). So feeling fully loaded in the knowledge there’s no way we’d run out I was horrified to learn my favourite fun time, anytime, all-the-time fizz has this statement on the back of the box “may contain traces or egg or milk” What?????? Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. What do you mean egg or milk in my bubbles? Ewwww. I had to investigate.
So it turns out the most commonly used fining agents for wine are:
  • Gelatine – derived from collagen obtained from various animal body parts.
  • Isinglass – Ising what? – Isinglass – a gelatin derived from the swim bladders of fish. Blueh
  • Egg white (egg albumen)
  • Casein – the principle protein found in milk. Now in my research on the addictiveness of cheese and its detrimental health impacts this really is one to watch for. See the link at the bottom to read more
  • Skimmed milk (guessing you know this one)
  • Bentonite – sounds like it might explode! Okay so this one isn’t derived from an animal but it’s actually a clay. Oh dear god.
  • Carbon – Again no animals but the Australian Wine Research Institute says this on their website “Carbon is regarded as a severe and relatively non-specific fining agent and therefore should be used with care. Special care should be taken to avoid exposure to carbon: use eye protection in combination with breathing protection.“ Well that’s okay then.
  • Polyvinylpolypyrrolidone – I have no idea, something to do with resign and vinyl.
The point is we drink away without giving a thought to what’s in our glass and what it’s doing to our health. Possibly like me you assumed it was grapes and sugar. Not to mention the fact we trust the makers of food and wine. But just like the meat, dairy and egg industry the reality is it’s simply about the bottom line. So the next time you reach for your usual tipple you might want to do a quick check on for a swim bladder or two.
Link on the health impact of cheese: (…)

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