The Guide To Buying Clean And Healthy Wines

July 23, 2013

If you want to avoid all of this potentially added into your wine:

stabilizing agents
fining and filtration agents
clarification agents
de-acidification agents
acidification agents
texturizing agents
thickening agents
coloring agents
synthetic alcohols
commercial/fabricated yeasts
fabricated tannins

defoaming agents

Then you need to learn how to shop for wine. You need to know what questions to ask. But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

And just so you know, clean and safe wine doesn’t have to be crazy expensive. My favorite wine at the moment is the Cellario Dolcetto and it’s 15$ a bottle. It’s fruit front, kind of jammy and medium to full bodied. I get it at my favorite wine shop in Cambridge called Central Bottle. They carry a lot of natural wines and they know their stuff. I highly recommend them if you’re in the Boston area.
my favorite wine

Photos by Kathi McFarland Bahr. She’s rad.

Watch the video for a full break down on how to shop for safe wine: What words you need to know, and what questions to ask. But here are your key words to remember:

Natural Wine
Unfined & unfiltered
(for sparkling wines) no dosage or vin non dose or sauvage or naturel
Not chaptalized
low or no sulfites added
And remember:
organic doesn't mean it's safe


Wine Fairs for natural wines (Unfortunately there are no natural wine fairs in the states at the moment, but if you’re in the UK you’re in luck!)

Natural wine blogs — she’s the matriarch of natural wine writing in the US. see the full list of additives on her site. — ditto for france — jamie goode’s site, not totally natural, but natural-heavy — great podcast from sommelier levi dalton

If I could post the ven diagram, I would, for some reason it wont post…
Next week: It’s Just Grape Juice


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About the Author ()

Lillian's Test Kitchen is an online cooking web series. The recipes in this series are always grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and cane sugar-free. The recipes are also all (at this point) paleo. Some are vegan. Some are raw. I use the best ingredients I can find (and afford). But Lillian's Test Kitchen is not so much about food as it is about the experience of trying something you have never tried before and then finding the joy, comedy and laughter in those small moments in spite of and also often, because of dietary restrictions. My goal is to inspire others to take their health into their own hands and make their own food.

Comments (12)

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  1. Wow. I feel like I could talk to a wine person now. Thanks so much!

  2. Eden says:

    Yet again you wow me with new information. Who knew? Well, clearly I didn’t! Thanks for all these useful tips. When I splurge on a bottle, I’d like for it to be a pleasant… non-allergy-inducing… experience.

  3. Nikki says:

    I was despairing of ever being able to drink wine safely in this country- thanks for the info!

  4. Arleen says:

    Thank you for this, Lillian!

  5. Chef Mary says:

    Thank you so much! My vocabulary has increased. Natural, non chaptalized, and unfined please!

    Semi-related: My boss thought of me when she saw this article, and I thought of you.

    (She also recommended watching the movie King Corn.)

    The second page of the article lists off a few of the scary unexpected places you may still be getting exposed to corn. It can be found in a lot of wacky places, like tea bags, paper cup linings, the coating on store bought apples, and additives you wouldn’t expect, like vitamin E, citric acid, and ascorbic acid!

    I am definitely sensitive to corn, and I make almost all my own food from scratch. But I buy fruit nearly every day, and some of it is from grocery stores because we don’t grow everything here all year round. And every now and then I use tea from a bag rather than loose. Compostable plastic bags and utensils are made from corn. This makes me wonder if corn’s ubiquity might be part of why even though my symptoms have managed to improve, they haven’t gone away entirely.

    Scary stuff!

    • lillianmedville says:

      Argh! Thank you for this. I’m not allergic to corn but I do try to generally avoid it. This is all good to know…

    • lillianmedville says:

      I read the article and then the article about them standing behind the article. It’s amazing, and also not so amazing at all, how everyone is afraid to come out against GMO’s and big agrobusiness. Sigh. I know it’s just a matter of time before enough people take a stand, while people like us vote with our dollars and our ballots but I (selfishly wish it would hurry up already wouldn’t so I wouldn’t have to deal with people telling me that to be anti-GMO is to be anti-science. I’m pro science. I would like to see some long term, unbiased studies done on the effects of GMO foods WITH SCIENCE.

      Have you tried Mighty Leaf tea? The tea bags are silk and so maybe, probably? don’t have corn in them. It might be worth checking out so you can bring a tea bag with you when you’re out.

  6. Alisa says:

    Wow, who would have thought that natural would beat organic – our food supply is WAY more complicated than it should be.

    I’ve always been the type who gets headaches from wine (often just minutes after the first sip), so I’ve found this series so helpful and fascinating Lillian! Guess I’ll have to seek out some good wine and have the ladies over for some girl time – I’ve been shunning wine for years now!

    • lillianmedville says:

      Aw! Girl time is the best. We all should have more of it, not less. Get it, girl.

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