Nutritional Labeling And Wine — 2010

A couple of days ago Marion Nestle wrote about “Alcohol nutritional labeling a regulatory maze” in the SF Chronicle. First she sets up the straw man: “Q: I like to read nutritional information on the foods and beverages I consume. Why is there no such information on alcoholic beverages?” (I mean, honestly, do you really believe an actual person wrote in with that question?) And then she proceeds on a random walk through the maze of regulations, some contradictory, that currently govern what has to appear on alcoholic beverage labels. She finishes her piece by noting that TTB has punted for the time being on issuing final rulings on nutritional labeling for alcoholic beverages, and suggests that the attentive reader write their Congressional representative to urge the TTB to get moving.

Buried in the piece, Dr. Nestle describes the present-day convoluted labeling regulations as an “…absurd, consumer-unfriendly situation.” This raises the question — what consumer? How many of us are so obsessive over our food and wine that we actually read the nutritional panel on everything we purchase? I suspect the answer is: not many. I sure don’t see them in the market. Imagine how long it would take to shop if everyone were standing in the aisles reading nutrition labels before dropping things in their basket.

Obviously I’m being a bit hyperbolic. As I’m sure many do, I sometimes look at the nutrition panel and composition list. For example, I don’t react well to MSG and try to avoid buying processed foods that contain it. I’m also philosophically and politically opposed to Big Corn, so I avoid buying things containing high-fructose corn syrup (or the new consumer-friendly euphemism — “corn sugar”).

Two years ago I did a piece on “Mandatory Composition Labels” where I staked out my position on the issue for wine. In that piece I ask the question of whose interests are served by these labeling regulations. I noted:

“…it’s my opinion that mandating nutritional labels to address the public health problem of obesity is patently ludicrous. From a purely utilitarian standpoint, if nutritional labeling could curb people’s eating habits we should be seeing rates of obesity decline. They certainly are not. I think it is clear that as a culture we consume too much. The nutritional labeling mandates embody the explicit assumption that the informed consumer will consume less. This is a Pollyanna fantasy, that completely discounts the huge commoditized food industrial complex which spends billions on marketing in order to get us to consume more.”

Nothing has changed in the intervening years. If statistics are to be believed, the average American continues to get fatter despite having more nutritional information pushed at them every day. Nutritional labeling with a goal of reducing obesity and related health issues is a public policy failure of the first magnitude.

Regarding composition labeling, I continue to believe that “…people who may die from allergies to specific foodstuffs and additives absolutely must know what’s in what they are eating.” But I have yet to see any data whatsoever showing that people allergic to protein derived from peanuts, soybeans, cow’s milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, and wheat are being admitted to emergency rooms for allergic reactions after consuming alcoholic beverages.

Show me the data — let’s see actual evidence that there is a problem that needs to be — or that effectively can be — addressed by new labeling regulations. Dr. Nestle’s obsessive straw man notwithstanding.

18 thoughts on “Nutritional Labeling And Wine — 2010

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  2. Peter O'Connor

    Allow me to disagree with you. Although I’m intrinsically opposed to government regulation, I believe labeling wine ingredients, as a voluntary initiative, would turn into a smart move for first-adopters.
    I partly agree that the obese population, at the lowest income brackets, don’t seem to care about checking ingredients; but your public certainly does. People, who spend more than $20 in a bottle, perceive wine as a healthy product that is part of their lives, and are concerned with the health effects of this habit in the long run.
    IMHO, primary concerns are: low quality additives (e.g. European tartaric acid from grape skins vs. Chinese synthetic tartaric acid); mishandling of sensitive ingredients (e.g. Velcorin); industrial anaerobic fermentation (reduction processes) techniques (i.e. roto-fermentation), with degradation of organic matter at extremely high pressures inside the vats; distillation methods like reverse osmosis and spinning cones that heat up and agitate the wine at low atmospheric pressures…
    This is surely not an issue for artisanal wines like yours, but it raises several questions, particularly for the lower-end/commodity-oriented broader market, as to what are going to be the consequences for consumers, like you and me, who’ve been drinking wine everyday for the last 15 plus years.

    1. John M. Kelly Post author

      Peter, you are welcome to disagree with me, so long as you then allow me to set you straight ;-). I spend a lot of time talking to our customers in the tasting room. I can’t recall a single incidence in 20 years when someone has asked me about our wine composition (it may have happened, but I don’t recall it — it’s that rare). So, like I ended my piece with, show me the data.

      We — all of us producers, not just producers of artisanal or cult wines — are facing new mandated label requirements. Before that mandate is adopted I want to see a survey of all wine consumers, answering just one question: “Do you need to know the composition of your wine in order to make a buying decision?” Not, “would having the composition label affect your buying.” If even 50% plus 1 of respondents say “yes” then we should consider it (though if we can’t raise taxes or fees without a 2/3rds supermajority I think we should consider the same requirement to enact new regulation).

      None of the concerns you list will be addressed by mandatory composition or nutritional labeling, with the exception of the presence of Velcorin, perhaps. Under the uniform food ingredient labeling rules, nearly every wine label will have some variation of “Ingredients: Grapes; less than 1%: yeast, yeast extract, diammonium phosphate, tartaric acid, tannin, citric acid, sulfur dioxide, potassium sorbate, dimethyldicarbonate” — regardless of how the wine is produced. I envision 90%+ of consumers’ eyes glazing over.

      While I agree with you about the undesirability of impure ingredients (i.e. synthetic tartaric) and the need to label ingredients which have demonstrable negative health consequences if they are present above a threshold level (i.e. SO2, various other allergens, and methanol) there is no science whatsoever suggesting that the production methods you list yield a beverage in any way less “healthy” for consumers than a more “naturally” made wine.

      I’ve said it before elsewhere and I will say it again: it is nobody’s business what methods, techniques, formulas, etc. I use to make my wine. That information is proprietary — it is my intellectual property — and I defy any of the noisy, nagging, nattering nannies over at the eBob forum to get a court order forcing me to divulge same. I’ve got two words for that lot: “screw off.”

      And the bottom line: compared to the negative health consequences of ingesting alcohol everyday for the last 15 plus years, the rest of this stuff is just so many angels squatting on the head of a pin.

  3. Peter O'Connor

    Thanks for your thoughtful response.
    High-proof alcohol is, beyond a doubt, a strong toxin, but there is also consensus in the Academia that low daily consumption of wine can significantly reduce the risk of degenerative diseases, like CHD and Cancer, in the long run.
    It is also well known that some chemical treatments and manipulations practiced in the winery, may pose serious health risks. Including practices as simple and widespread as Chaptalization, which liberates nitrates (Karumanchiri, A. et al), that when in contact with biogenic amines create nitrosoamines, which are carcinogens. High-pressure reductive processes (rotofermentation, pressurized fermentation, carbonic maceration…), as well as chemical reductive processes (e.g. hidrogenation), besides retaining CO2 and CH4 in the wine, are known to have the ability to disrupt and change carbon’s molecular structures, which can induce the production of ‘novel toxins’ that are chemically different from those we are biologically adapted to cope with. We have no “enzymatic machinery” designed to deal with them, and our livers are not prepared to detoxify these compounds. “Furthermore, we have no natural inclination, or bio-machinery, to protect us from artificial toxins. The same is true of potentially mutagenic or carcinogenic radioisotopes. Evolution [only] equipped us with the ability to smell or taste common natural toxins; and [gave us] the motivation to avoid such smells and tastes (i.e. aversive stimuli)”. (Nesse & Williams; 1996)
    Lastly, please correct me if I’m wrong, but it looks perfectly safe for winemakers in general to disclose artificial ingredients on their labels with no risk of exposing their proprietary formulas and intellectual property; just as Pepsi, Coke, and many other famous brands have been doing for decades.

    1. John M. Kelly Post author

      Peter – The strength of the alcohol is not the issue, it is the total daily intake. The academic and medical consensus is that “moderate” consumption of alcohol may have health benefits. The key is in the definition of moderate — it will be different for each person, and not just based on body weight (other health and genetic factors matter). For healthy, average individuals the consensus definition of moderate consumption appears to be around 0.5 mL alcohol per kg of body weight per day. Beyond this level of consumption the risk of chronic disease — including cancer — is believed to increase.

      It is easy to make a statement like “It is also well known that some chemical treatments and manipulations practiced in the winery, may pose serious health risks.” It is much harder to back it up. I suggest that this statement is under-informed and easily refutable.

      I’m surprised at your assertion regarding sugar addition. Sugar is sugar. Perhaps higher Brix musts do yield higher levels of nitrate production in fermentation but I don’t have the supporting reference you cite. I am familiar with Karumanchiri’s work with my old friend George Soleas at LCBO but I’ve gone though my files and checked online and find no supporting evidence for higher sugar yielding higher nitrates (there is probably a correlation with increased fertilization with nitrates in the vineyard).

      Not that it particularly matters. One, dimethyl- and diethylnitrosamine are known carcinogens in rats but their effect in humans has not been demonstrated beyond epidemiological linkage between “elevated” intake and increased risk for gastric cancers. The carcinogenicity of other nitrosamines have not been well-characterized. The biogenic amines found in wine are not precursors of the known rat carcinogens; also, alcohol inhibits the reactions between nitrates and amines (Kurechi, T. et al., Food and Cosmetics Toxicology 18 (6), 591-95, 1980) and consequently these compounds are not found in wine (Sen, N. , et al., J. Food Safety 2 (1), 13-18, 1980).

      Your next assertion regarding “reductive processes” is simply baffling. Retention of CO2 and methane is meaningless — both outgas during aging and bottling and neither has a health effect. Carbonic maceration is not a pressurized process. Roto- and pressurized ferments are not conducted at particularly high pressures — nowhere near the pressures used in industrial hydrogenation. Regardless, hydrogenation is not a winemaking process. But “…the ability to disrupt and change carbon’s molecular structures, which can induce the production of ‘novel toxins’…” — seriously? You might be able to get away with a statement like that with some audiences, but not me. 😉 That’s nothing but alarmist rhetoric. Show me the data — in wine.

      You take it a step too far into alarmism with the mention of “mutagenic or carcinogenic radioisotopes.” Are you implying that there is anything in the arcanum of winemaking processes — industrial or otherwise — that somehow concentrates naturally-occurring radioisotopes? or that some nefarious wineries are actually adding radioactive compounds? Both are patently absurd, and you have damaged the credibility of your argument by including this reference in the quote from Nesse & Williams.

      Finally, my intellectual property concerns center on disclosure of winemaking methods (which seemed the focus of your previous comment) rather than ingredients. In my reply to your first comment I noted what a typical wine ingredient label will look like — if the industry is mandated to label at all. I realize I left off a possible inclusion in the list: “grape concentrate (from grapes)” but nobody is going to include the word “artificial” — unless artificial colors (food dyes) are used — or “synthetic” because food labeling regulations do not and will not require it. TTB regs currently require that we use only ingredients derived from natural sources in American wines (and wines imported into this country), with exceptions made for specific additives on a case-by-case basis (incidentally, I believe tartaric synthesized from petroleum is disallowed).

    2. John M. Kelly Post author

      I continue to delve into what actual wine ingredient labels will look like. According to the Code of Federal Regulations, a food “ingredient” is something that remains in the final product.

      If something added during processing is subsequently removed by some means during processing, it need not be declared as an ingredient. Whether minor ingredients need to be listed: “…depends on whether the… ingredient is present in a significant amount and has a function in the finished food. If a substance is an incidental additive and has no function or technical effect in the finished product, then it need not be declared on the label. An incidental additive is usually present because it is an ingredient of another ingredient. Sulfites are considered to be incidental only if present at less than 10 ppm.” (FDA “Ingredient Lists“)

      Diammonium phosphate, and grape concentrate added to increase the density of the must before fermentation won’t be listed as they are fully consumed. Yeast, other nutrients and bacteria won’t be listed if the wine is sterile-filtered, and arguably don’t need to be listed even if the wine is not filtered as it can be argued that they have “no function or technical effect in the finished product.” Filtration aids as well as proteins (including enzymes) and other fining agents won’t be listed as they are removed in processing. The question of whether allergenic food proteins need to be listed in a FALCPA-compliant warning hinges on whether any residual amount of these proteins can be measured in a wine.

      Wines with added residual sugar will probably list “sugar (from grape concentrate)” on the label. Gum arabic — added as a stabilizer and palate softener to some wines — will have to be listed.

  4. Peter O'Connor

    John, this is not my turf, and I cannot delve much deeper than the papers I actually read, so please correct me if I’m wrong.
    “When a combination of neutrons and protons, which does not already exist in nature, is produced artificially, the atom will be unstable and is called a radioactive isotope or radioisotope”. According to Wikipedia, “a radionuclide is an atom with an unstable nucleus, which is a nucleus characterized by excess energy which is available to be imparted either to a newly-created radiation particle within the nucleus, or else to an atomic electron. The radioisotope/radionuclide, in this process, undergoes radioactive decay, and emits a gamma ray(s) and/or subatomic particles. These particles constitute ionizing radiation”.
    “Ionizing radiations such as X-rays and gamma γ-rays, generated by X-ray apparatus and radioisotopes such as cobalt 60 (60Co and 137Cs), respectively, are highly effective in killing microorganisms. Since they destroy microorganisms without appreciably raising temperature, the process is termed “cold sterilization.” Ionizing radiations can affect the cells directly by interacting with key molecules within the microbial cell. The main site of damage in cells is the chromosome where hydroxyl radicals cause single and double strand breaks in the DNA molecule as a result of hydrogen removal from deoxyribose sugar”. FOOD AND INDUSTRIAL MICROBIOLOGY: Food Preservation; Rakesh Kumar Gupta; 2007.
    Ionizing radiation is largely employed in taint removal [2] and sterilization (and/or “low-temperature” pasteurization) [1] processes in the fruit processing and the beverage industry as a whole (perhaps to a lesser degree in the wine industry?). Corks are also treated with gaseous SO2 or with ionizing radiation [4].
    These facts seem to be pretty much common knowledge, since organic certifying agencies prohibit winegrowing/winemaking practices such as “genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, and using sewage sludge”. [3]
    I found this paper, “Why wine might be less harmful than beer and spirits; Berger, A.; 1998” supporting that “[a]nimal studies have shown that the presence of ethyl alcohol blocks the metabolism of nitrosamine in the liver (usually mediated by cytochrome P-450). As a consequence, the nitrosamines are left intact and free to circulate to other organs, such as the kidneys and esophagus, where they can be activated into carcinogens”.
    PS: Pressure gets so high inside roto-fermenters that “early days” German tanks were known to explode.
    1) Applications of Radiation within the Wine Industry; Kyle Wilson, Doug Boreham, Gerald Moran; 2002.
    2) ELECTRICAL PROCESSING OF BIOLOGICAL OBJECTS AND FOOD PRODUCTS: Revisiting the electric field sterilizing action on fruit juice microflora; Yu. A. Boshnyaga and L. A. Bantysh
    4) Davis et al.; 1982

    1. John M. Kelly Post author

      Hi Peter – so you want to move the discussion from process methods to ingredients and now to effects of radioactivity? I’m game, and you are on my turf in more ways than one.

      Process methods first. German law requires that all process tanks built in that country be pressure tested and marked with the rated pressure. The vast majority of stainless steel tanks used in the wine industry (regardless of where they are built) have a pressure rating of about 1 bar or 14 psig. You had mentioned hydrogenation before as a concern for some reason, but it can occur at pressures of 1 bar only a) when H2 is introduced into the process, and b) in the presence of a catalyst. Neither of these conditions occur in winemaking as I know it. I don’t know of any useful fermentation process that utilizes pressure buildup in a vessel, though there are some that utilize decreased pressure.

      Decreased pressure is most often used to remove water and/or alcohol at low temperatures (vapor points decrease as pressure drops) but I recall reading about a process that also uses decreased pressure to release color from the grape skins in red must by breaking open the cells. Elevated pressures are used on finished wines in various forms of filtration — everything from DE and pad filtrations, to sterile membrane filtration, to ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis. In all of these processes heat is the enemy and steps are taken to minimize heat buildup. Bottom line — there are no unusual toxin-producing chemistries occurring in these processes that do not occur to a greater or lesser degree in “natural” processes.

      Regarding radionuclides and radiation: Most of the elements in the periodic table have multiple naturally-occurring isotopes: for example, hydrogen exists in three forms (hydrogen, deuterium and tritium) one of which exhibits radioactive decay. Carbon-14 is an important radioactive isotope of carbon; the amount of C-14 in an organic material tells when it was made (radiocarbon dating). The US government uses radiocarbon dating to assure that all alcoholic beverages sold in the country were produced from fruit or grain: all alcohol produced from things grown recently will exhibit a current-era beta-decay signature, while ethanol produced from petroleum will have no C-14 left (petroleum is ancient carbon). In other words, government regulations require your wine to be radioactive.

      Many other radioisotopes occur in the foods we eat (check out potassium-40 in bananas for example — incidentally, containers loaded with bananas raise hell with the radioactivity detectors used to screen cargo entering US ports). A number of naturally-occurring radioisotopes which are present at low levels in the environment are produced in nuclear reactors for various scientific, medical and industrial uses — one of them being cold-sterilization as you noted. In this process, brief bursts of high-intensity ionizing radiation are used to treat items requiring sterilization. The radiation damages DNA such that when an organism attempts to divide it experiences DNA replication errors at such a high rate that the cells instead undergo apoptosis (programmed cell death). Dangerous bacteria die, rather than replicate and produce toxins.

      Early attempts at cold-sterilization of foodstuffs (which are already dead and hence not affected by breaks to DNA) were done at excessive radiation levels that resulted in changes in color, aromas, flavors and textures that were deemed commercially unacceptable. Researchers mastered these issues back in the late 1960s-early 1970s and the in intervening years have been studying irradiated food for safety concerns — including for the “novel toxins” you mentioned before — and have found the treated materials “safe.” Whether one believes that or not is a matter for emotion to decide, not reason.

      One point that many consumers seem not to understand: there is no residual radiation or radioactivity produced by cold sterilization in the treated food.

      Incidentally I am alive today because of medical application of a targeted combination of strong ionizing radiation and extremely toxic chemicals introduced into my blood. I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of head and neck cancer last year, and treated with cisplatin chemotherapy and image-guided intensity-modulated radiation therapy (Google them if you are interested). The radiation source was an accelerated electron beam directed at a tungsten target, which produced bremmstrahlung x-rays with an average energy of 5 million electron-volts (5 Mev). I received 0.2 Gy per day for 35 days. The radiations utilized for cold sterilization are measured in thousands of electron volts (< 20 keV) and total doses in micro- to milli-Gy. You mention that radiation has been used to treat corks, to remove taint and to sterilize them. I am unaware of any processes that utilize x-rays or radioactivity. Most use some combination of microwaves and autoclaving. Strong UV light could also be used for surface sterilization, but SO2 is easier to use and more effective. The Berger (1998) paper ( reinforces my point that wine does not contain nitrosamines. But if beer and a hot dog are so toxic, wouldn't consumer-protection nannies be agitating to ban baseball? 😉 The Wilson, et al. (2002) paper ( discusses research to use ionizing radiation (from cobalt-60) to reduce taint released by mutli-colored asian lady beetle (MALB) present in must. It was just that -- a research study. I don't know of anyone using ionizing radiation to treat wine, for any reason. Given that consumer acceptance of cold sterilization is apparently low (largely for emotional rather than rational reasons) I doubt that there will be any move to employ the technology in wine processing. I'm not certain what point you are trying to make with the Bosynyaga and Bantysh (2009) paper ( except perhaps that this is another example of an "unnatural" process that might someday be utilized in winemaking as an alternative to thermal flash-pasteurization? I guess that means that kosher wines -- where juices and musts are required to be pasteurized before fermentation -- will never be candidates for eco-certification. I'd be surprised to find that would be a problem for my Jewish friends who keep kosher. What do you mean with the Davis, et al. (1982) reference? -- full citations, please. Are you referring to the technology acceptance model ( Interesting. You might be interested in a quote I saw recently: "All models are wrong, but some of them are useful." -- attributed to George E. P Box (, Professor Emeritus of Statistics at the University of Wisconsin. Peter IMHO you are reading broadly but not deeply. A result of this is that your concerns about winemaking processes and ingredients having negative health benefits are out of proportion to the risks presented. None of us is immune to this. I don't eat peanut butter and I discourage my wife and especially my kids from doing so. My own choice is in part because I don't especially care for it, but also because government regulations allow a certain level of contamination of ground nuts with Aspergillis flavus, which produces aflatoxin -- deeming complete control of the fungus and elimination of the toxin from the food supply to be a commercially unattainable goal. Aflatoxin happens to be an extremely potent mutagen and carcinogen. I had a virology professor who died in his 30s of liver cancer, caused by mouth-pipetting solutions of aflatoxin during his own graduate research -- before the toxicity of the compound was well-understood. I have not eaten many peanuts and no peanut butter since I was a teen. Yet I still developed cancer -- though not liver cancer (yet). If you want to worry about something in your wine, Google "ochratoxin" -- another fungal compound produced by the Aspergillis spp. that sometimes grow on damaged grapes during ripening. The EU and Canada have regulated ochratoxin levels at under 2 ppb in alcoholic beverages; however, the FDA has issued no guidance to date. But you know what I'd bet? A good dose of ionizing radiation would destroy any ochratoxin that might be present in a wine.

  5. Peter O'Connor

    You should be the one raising hell about ingredients disclosure, not me.
    I had gastric bleeding induced by aspirin in 1996 (I had three effervescent pills and a couple of scotches), and almost died in the ER. Since then I seriously avoid eating and drinking industrial stuff, except wine; which is a classical black box.
    I even agree that most interventions we discussed are safe; in the short run… Medical research does not encompass the time span we’re talking about: 20-30 years. I’ve been drinking wine for a long time, and all I want to know is how fast I’m going to kill myself.
    I wish you are in perfect health now. You’re a brave man. I don’t think I’d have the guts to go through that.

    1. John M. Kelly Post author

      Peter – and yet I am not raising hell, because I have the knowledge about how things are done that allows me to feel secure that I don’t need to — when it comes to wine at least.

      I do avoid drinking industrial wine. For the most part this is because they just don’t possess the qualities I have come to expect in fine wine. To a far lesser degree I stay away out of concern over the excessive use of pesticides and petroleum-based fertilizers, aquifer depletion, disgust over corporate behavior, and humanitarian concerns over farmworker treatment. I have a fractional concern over the presence in all wines, industrial or otherwise, of naturally-occurring toxins from grape rots and microbial sources — some of these microbes present due to inadequate cleanliness and sanitation plus out-of-whack winery microbial ecology. I have an even smaller concern over residues from cleaners/sanitizers and accidental introduction of other contaminants (glycol, hydraulic fluid PCBs from leaky transformers, contaminants in process water, etc.). My concern over the possibility of contaminants in wine additives is minuscule, but finite. I have no concern at all over the potential for processes to create novel toxins.

      I am reasonably satisfied that practice and policy are moving in the right direction, and at the right pace, so that my children will have less to fear regarding adverse health effects from their food than my generation did. I have faced and accepted the fact that my generation is just one huge random-block trial of the effects of over-industrialization on human health.

      I am sorry to hear about your gastric bleed. My father went through the same thing (nearly died in the ER) which may have had a proximal cause of NSAID use with or without alcohol, but they also discovered Helicobacter pylori infection that had weakened the lining of the gastrum. The proximal cause of my cancer was probably human papilloma virus, but there have been so many other exposures in my past that may have contributed to the development of the tumor — including smoking in my teens and relatively heavier alcohol use in my 20s and 30s — that it would be a reach to point to any one thing.

      In the broader context I am more concerned about synthetic hormonal analogs and endocrine disruptors in our environment as potential triggers for tumorigenesis than I am about long-term exposure to low levels of other potential carcinogens – though that is probably not completely rational. 🙂

  6. Tyler Thomas

    Bravo gentlemen, a great read. Everytime I thought of a point to make, John was making it! Complete with “the government requires wine to be radioactive.” One of my favorite facts about wine! I wish more people could have a civil debate like this without taking personal shots! – Tyler

    1. John M. Kelly Post author

      Thanks, Tyler. Peter is a sharp guy and I always enjoy our exchanges. I appreciate the opportunity and excuse to elaborate on my position. It is enlightening and deeply educational for me to discover what other folks have concerns about in the wines we produce, and why.

    1. John M. Kelly Post author

      Peter, if melanoma was going to be a concern I’d already be toast. My family is from southern CA and I spent every possible day of nearly every summer of my youth in the sun on the beaches of Oceanside, Laguna Beach, Malibu and Santa Monica. Back in the day there was no sunscreen in Coppertone. So far, no squamous cell or basal cell carcinoma, either – for me or for anyone in my family. There’s likely to be a genetic component to susceptibility.

  7. Steve Pinzon


    I spent summers at the beach as a youth and many hours in the sun at a tennis club as an adult. I didn’t see basal cells until I was mid-50’s, now I’ve had 4 in the last 5 years even though I use 30 or higher sunscreen. Doctor says it’s cumulative damage, and now I could live in a cave and still see them periodically. For what it’s worth

    1. John M. Kelly Post author

      Yes, Steve – we are suffering the consequences today of stuff that happened to us decades ago. BTW – I’ve read that higher SPF is no more protective than SPF30; also that the chemicals used to make sunblock are carcinogenic. Even if SPF30 had been available when we were kids some of us would be developing skin cancers now.

    1. John M. Kelly Post author

      I don’t know of anybody in my circle using thermovinification. Just the opposite – many people I know waste a lot of energy on lowering the temperature of the must and extending “cold maceration” before fermenting. I do know a couple operations that conduct extended macerations by keeping temps in the 70s once yeast activity is done.

      My understanding of the thermovinification process (not made clear in the article you reference) is that the must is cooled immediately after the application of heat and before inoculation. I’m no more concerned re: health issues than I would be over fruit jams and jellies or unfermented grape juices – which are also subjected to elevated temperatures during processing; often higher temps and for more extended periods than used in thermovinification. As I noted somewhere in this thread or nearby, kosher wine production requires pasteurization of the must or juice before fermentation. This too is a form of thermovinification.

      Regarding effects on wine quality – unless keeping kosher I would never subject quality fruit to the process. But if the grapes are total or even partial shite, then its application could be advantageous.


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