Something’s a Little Fishy…

Have you read the fine print on a bottle of Aussie wine recently? If you have you, may noticed phases similar to those below and thought, “What is going on here?”:

“Traces of milk product may remain”

“Made with the aid of fish products”

“Fined with milk and fish products and traces may remain”

or even,

“Allegens: Egg white fining has been employed in the production of this wine as has been traditional practice for generations. Allergic reactions to this product is unlikely but cannot be excluded: to live has always been dangerous!” (Courtesy of Terra Felix)

These new additions to wine labels have not come about due to a change in wine making procedure, instead due to a change in food labeling regulations. As of late 2002 all food, including wine and wine products, must “carry a declaration statement” if a potential allergent has been used as an “ingredient, food additive or processing aid”.

The process used to achieve clarity and to improve colour, flavour and physical stability of wine, called Fining, is commonplace in wine making procedures and has been for a lengthy period. Under this new legislation the agents used for the Protein Fining of wines, to remove excess proteins (that can cause a haze in the wine) and tannins, came under scroutiny. The three main offenders are; Isinglass, derived from the air bladder of a sturgeon (fish); Casein, the principle protein in milk; and Egg Albumen, a protein found in the whites of eggs.

Although these agents are used in small quantities and are designed bind to unwanted components and drop-out of the solution before bottling, they still fell under this legislation through their use as processing aids.

So what does that mean to the wine? The back label of the Terra Felix wines sums it up best. Although traces of these agents may remain in the final product, it will be at very very low concentrations. Acute allergeries to these substance could lead to a reaction, however, is most cases there would be no effect.

If you are allergic to these products or simply dislike the use of them, there are a number of wineries who choose not use these agents in their wine making processes. One such example is South Gippsland’s Djinta Djinta winery (they also use organic procedures in all facits of their wine making process).

If you haven’t read the back label of an Australian wine lately, we urge not to waste your time, they’re are all full of crap anyway.