What’s In My Wine???

July 17, 2013

Wine has always been difficult for me and I have never understood why. It shouldn’t be a problem for me, since it’s made of grapes, which I’m not allergic to (thank goodness). So I figured that I just can’t handle the alcohol. And that would have made sense to me (having a sensitive body and all) but it was never consistent. Sometimes when I’m out, I’ll have less than a glass, and yet still somehow have a major hangover the next day. And other times I’ll drink almost an entire bottle and feel totally fine the next day.

What’s going on?

Well, for the first time, I actually have answers.

Wine: It’s not just grape juice.

Natural wine


I had the great fortune to sit down and talk to Lauren Friel, who is the wine director over at Oleana (a fancy and totally delicious restaurant in Cambridge, MA) about wine; what’s in our wine and why it’s there in the first place.

If you like to drink wine and don’t enjoy hangovers, food allergies or no, you need to watch this brand new LTK episode.

And just so you know, here is the TTB’s (The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) list of approved additives to wine:

Activated carbon
Ammonium dihydrogen phosphate
Ascorbic acid
Bromelin (see Protease(s))
Calcium carbonate
Calcium sulphate
Carbon dioxide
Citric acid
Copper sulphate
Cream of tartar (see Potassium hydrogen tartrate)
Cupric sulphate (see Copper sulfate)
Diammonium hydrogen phosphate
Diammonium phosphate (see Diammonium hydrogen phosphate)
Diatomaceous earth
Dimethyl dicarbonate
Dimethyl polysiloxane
Egg white
Enzymatic activity (see Enzymes)
Erythorbic acid
Essences or extracts
Ethyl maltol
Ferrocyanide compounds
Ferrous sulphate
Ficin (see Protease(s))
Filtering aids (Inert)
Fumaric acid
Glucose oxidase
Glycerol dioleate
Glycerol monooleate
Grape juice
Grape-flavour concentrate
Gum arabic (see Acacia)
Gypsum (see Calcium sulphate)
Hemicellulase (see Cellulases)
Inert filtering aids / agents (see Filtering aids (Inert))
Ion exchange resins
Lactic acid
Malic acid
Malolactic bacteria
Ovalbumin (see Albumin)
Papaine (see Protease(s))
Pepsin (see Protease(s))
Polyoxyethylene (40) monostearate (see Polyoxyethylene (40) stearate)
Polyoxyethylene (40) stearate
Potassium bicarbonate (see Potassium hydrogen carbonate)
Potassium bitartrate (see Potassium hydrogen tartrate)  Potassium carbonate
Potassium caseinate
Potassium disulphite (see Potassium metabisulphite)
Potassium hydrogen carbonate
Potassium hydrogen tartrate  Potassium metabisulphite
Potassium sorbate
Silica (see Silicon dioxide)
Silica gel (see Silicon dioxide)  Silicon dioxide
Sorbic acid
Sorbitan monostearate
Soy flour
Sulphur dioxide
Tartaric acid
Thiamine hydrochloride
Trypsin (see Protease(s))
Yeast cell membranes
Yeast cell walls
Yeast food / nutrients


don't poison me with your crap wine

Photos by Kathi McFarland Bahr. She’s awesome.

Next week: Wine Guide: How To Shop For Safe and Clean Wine


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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 (13)

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  1. Arleen says:

    Lillian, this was wonderful! Thanks! Did you have th opportunity to ask her if there is a wine without these additives, made from “good grapes?”

    • lillianmedville says:

      Thanks Arleen! I did get a chance to ask. That’s all coming next week. A whole guide on how to shop for wine safely. 🙂

  2. Marty says:

    A clean vegan wine!?

  3. OH my so we aren’t crazy–some wines do cause problems…I so hope there will be a list of the good ones soon. 🙂

    Love the dress.

  4. Wowser! Scary! Thanks for this series, Lillian!


  5. You crack me up Lil – that picture is adorable and hilarious, all in one. It’s seriously scary what sneaks into wine – wowsers! Can’t wait to read some of your recommendations as wine has always made me feel like crapola.

    • lillianmedville says:

      Thanks so much Alisa! Yeah, they’re are super sneaky about this stuff. It’s terrible…

  6. amber says:

    Hi Lillian,

    First of all, that picture of you made me laugh out loud big time. You are so damn cute and funny and I love you.

    Okay, here is the deal with me…I am the SAME with the wine reaction!

    Nearly ALL my girlfriends are huge winos. Big time. And for many years I “tried” to be a wine drinker (back in the day when I was a beer drinker myself…Guinness mostly). Anywho, so I tried to drink wine because let’s face it, it looks super fancy and fun with the big glasses and the other stuff, and everyone on Cougar Town loves it…but I could never hang girl. EVER. I would get all flushed, dizzy, and the next morning, forget it. I always felt like crap! That would make no sense to me (for example) when the previous month I did 4 shots of taquilla and I woke up feeling just “meh.” How could a few glasses of wine push me over the edge? Well, I knew about those pesky tannins and sulfates…but I had NOOOO idea all the other junk was lurking (I’m motioning to my brain like it’s exploding) like you just rocked it girl. No more wine for this chica! And thank you for giving me an actual reason to never drink it again.

    Do. Not. Want.

    Thanks for this video. You rock.

    Cheers. ha ha.

  7. Okay lady. So what I’m getting from this is only drink the good stuff. As a celiac wine drinker, I’ve never had a bad reaction to wine. Ever. I also don’t drink super duper cheap. I mean, I don’t drink Boone’s Farm. I’ll grab a bottle of $9.99 from Chile any day.

    Is this the right take away? Especially since I’ve never had a problem? Inquiring minds (mine) want to know.

    • lillianmedville says:

      That isn’t the right takeaway. I mean, Boone’s Farm is all but guaranteed to have crap in it, but there are plenty of more expensive bottles that have other unsavory stuff in them. So, you’ve probably just gotten lucky so far. I’m posting another episode that is a wine guide (how to shop for safe wine) in a few days. It will break the how-to and all the things you need to know. So you can still drink wine, you just have to be careful about it. But if you’ve got a brand and it’s treating you well, then it’s probably safe for you.

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