What’s in My Wine?

Have you ever consider what might be in that glass of red wine you had with dinner? You’re probably thinking that wine is simply crushed grapes that have been filtered and allowed to ferment. The truth is a bottle of wine contains quite a number of ingredients ingredients. So while you’re worrying about the wine calories you’re consuming, you should also think about the extra ingredients often found in the average bottle of wine.


While grapes are naturally sweet, a wine maker may use additional sweeteners to achieve the desired flavor. The type of sweeteners include straight sugar, simple syrup, honey and even fruit juice made with grapes and/or other types of fruit. The winemaker then adds sorbic acid or potassium sorbate to prevent the excess sugar from being turned to additional alcohol by the yeast.


Yeast is an essential ingredient in wine-making because without yeast the sugar in the grapes could never be converted to alcohol. However, the type of yeast that winemakers use can have varying results. Because of this, most winemakers have to add sulfites to kill ambient yeast.

Sulfites and Lactic Acid Bacteria

Sulfites are not only used to kill ambient yeast, but bacteria as well. In fact, sulfites have various uses including stopping the fermentation process, extending the shelf-life of the wine and even sanitizing the wine-making equipment. The irony is that while sulfites are used to kill bacteria, lactic acid bacteria is later added to the wine in certain occasions. Lactic acid bacteria is used to change the mouth-feel of wine, to counteract a wine that is too acidic, and to stabilize the wine.


Enzymes are used in wine for a variety of reasons. The first reason is to help break the grapes down to create more juice. Another essential job of enzymes is to remove any haze from the wine so that the final product has a more pleasant appearance.

The next time you open a bottle of wine, remember that grapes are only one ingredient in the wine-making process. Wine may also contain enzymes, sulfites, lactic acid bacteria, yeast, sweeteners and a number of other additives. The good news is that these are natural ingredients that have been used for hundreds of years to prolong the shelf-life, create the best flavor and prevent your bottle of wine from becoming a bottle of vinegar. In other words, there may be several ingredients in a bottle of wine, but they are essential for creating the best wine possible.

Image credit: Flickr user JackSim

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