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From chardonnay to cabernet, malbec to merlot: What's in your wine?

12:20 PM, Jan 9, 2014   |    comments
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KUSA - When you sit down to enjoy a glass of wine, you may not think of what's actually in that wine. It might be more than just grapes.

BeverageGrades in Colorado is a new company that tests wine for consumers. In their lab, they test for color additives, juice concentrate, pesticides and preservatives that may be in that beloved bottle of goodness.

Since wines are not regulated by the FDA, companies can technically add a whole host of ingredients to their wine. BeverageGrades says wine drinkers need to watch out for some of these unnecessary additives.

Carcinogens can pose a problematic health risk, as can pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. These elements can be extremely harmful to humans when consumed in extreme amounts.

BeverageGrades says 68 percent of the wines tested in the BeverageGrades lab contain one or more potentially harmful pesticides.

BeverageGrades say these are the most common ones they see:

  • Boscalid - Boscalid is the most commonly detected pesticide in white wines. The EPA has determined that this fungicide is unlikely to cause much risk to humans, even at maximum exposure levels, so the traces found in many wines, while less than desirable, are not particularly likely to pose a serious health risk. If you would rather be on the safe side and avoid it all together, stick to chablis, champagne or pinot gris as those varietals tend to have lower average Boscalid detection levels.
  • Pyrimethanil - This fungicide is used on winemaking grapes, as well as grapes you'd buy at the grocery store. Found in riesling, sauvignon blanc, moscato and most prevalently, in Pinot Grigio. Pyrimethanil is listed as a possible carcinogen and a suspected endocrine disruptor. Carcinogens are agents that may cause cancer following exposure. While Pyrimethanil is listed as only a possible carcinogen, consumption may have serious negative side effects. Pyrimethanil's status as a suspected endocrine disruptor means that this chemical may interfere with the body's natural hormones. Endocrine disruptors have been linked to several conditions including obesity.
  • Dimethoate - Various chardonnay's tested by BeverageGrades have been found to contain dimethoate. Dimethoate is one of the most widely used pesticides in the world. It is classified as acutely toxic and is also a possible carcinogen and is also a developmental and reproductive toxin. This insecticide is also a suspected endocrine disruptor. Dimethoate is a pesticide to watch out for, so if you are drinking chardonnay, it's important to check its purity rating.

Not all wines contain harmful chemicals in them. 9NEWS spoke with a few Colorado vineyards (Balistreri Vineyards and Creekside Cellars) that say since Colorado's climate works in their favor when they produce wine, their wine is naturally made without having to add chemicals or pesticides that are not needed.

Doug Caskey, the executive director of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, an agency of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, says testing wine is a great service to wine drinkers. Caskey says companies testing wine for wineries should have accreditation from the TTB (The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) to make sure they meet certification.

BeverageGrades is not credited with the TTB. They say they're a private company with the goal of testing wine for consumer purpose only.

Go to to see the lab results of your favorite wines. If you don't see your wine on their site, tweet @beveragegrades with #winenot and they will test that wine for you.

9NEWS Medical expert Dr. John Torres says wine drinkers should not be scared about what's in one glass of wine. If they are extensively drinking wine, or any alcoholic beverage for that matter, there are always concerns. But he says this new outlet of information can be useful. People can learn more about what's in their wine and choose a healthier option if they choose.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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