Many people love wine. For those who enjoy this drink, it can be regarded as one of life’s great pleasures. Archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest known production of wine produced by fermentation of grapes may have taken place as early as 6,000 BC.
Most of us have heard that red wine contains a chemical called resveratrol, which has cardiological protective properties. We also know that too much alcohol consumption can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and alcoholism. However, the subject of this article is not how alcohol affects your health. It is about what you may not know, what exists in your bottle of wine.
Whether you’re drinking a $200 bottle of French wine or just a two-dollar Trader Joe’s food, has it ever occurred to you that you’re taking pesticides, heavy metals and a whole range of additives? If you’re already trying to stay healthy by buying grass meat and organic fruit and vegetables, why not worry about what you drink regularly or several times a week?
Below we’ll look at some shocking information about what can be in your wine and how to choose a wine that doesn’t contain these nasty ingredients.
9 out of 10 French wines contain pesticides.
The wine magazine Decanter reports on a recent study of more than 300 French wines, of which only 10% were free of traces of pesticides and fungicides. Although all individual pesticide residues were below the limits set by the French Environment Agency, some samples with up to 9 individual pesticides were found!
In France, vineyards account for only 3% of agricultural land, but the wine industry accounts for 80% of fungicide use. The most worrying part is that although individual molecules were below toxicity thresholds, the long-term accumulation effect and the way the molecules can interact with each other have not been researched – meaning that a pesticide mixture can be more toxic than the sum of its parts.
Another survey by the Pesticide Action Network Europe showed similar results. All conventional wines included in the analysis contained pesticides, including one with 10 different pesticides!
What about American wines? Unfortunately, there are hardly any studies of this kind for domestic wines; but as in France, conventional viticulture in the USA is more pesticide-intensive.
Don’t forget that grapes are on the Dirty Dozen list because they are among the 12 best products with the most pesticide residues. Winemakers generally do not wash the grapes before crushing them, so all the pesticides found in the average grape are likely to end up in your wine glass.
Heavy metals found in wine
Heavy metals are widespread in the environment. The presence of heavy metals in our food chain is a major health problem. These metals accumulate in our organs and over time promote oxidative damage in cells, an important part of chronic inflammation that can lead to cancer and many other degenerative diseases.
In 2008, a study by Kingston University in London analyzed wines from 15 countries across Europe, South America and the Middle East. It was found that many wines contain heavy metals up to 200 times the amount considered safe. The metal ions that caused most of the contamination were vanadium, copper, and manganese. But four other metals with higher 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 to determine the safe level of frequent, long-term exposure to various chemicals and compounds. A THQ value of 1 is considered safe. Values above 1 indicate a health risk.
The study found that typical wines had THQs between 50 and 200 per glass, but some wines had THQs above 300. To provide some perspective, seafood considered dangerous usually falls between a THQ of 1 and 5.
The worst wines came from Hungary and Slovakia with THQs of over 350. Wines from France, Austria, Spain, Germany, and Portugal registered THQs of over 100. Wines from Italy, Brazil, and Argentina showed a safe metal level.
What about US wines? Here, too, there is hardly any data available on the contamination of domestic wines.