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Vol 25. "Wine, Good or Evil?"

Credit: Quentin Maza. Instagram: Quenti_maza

You can download the original pdf-formatted version of this article here

Drink a glass of wine...
Good or Evil?
Book of Bertil 25.01


Good or bad for our health? Who to believe?

"... Then he took a cup and thanked God, and gave it to them, saying,
'Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for many, for the forgiveness of sins.'"

Matthew 26:27-28. 

"... Then he took a cup and thanked God, and gave it to them, saying,
'Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for many, for the forgiveness of sins.'"

Matthew 26:27-28. 

From the first wines, made more than 6000 years ago, to the wine of today (which is sometimes talked about more than drunk), wine has been a sort of Janus, the Roman god of duality, containing within it, according to beliefs, good or evil. Throughout the ages, its benefit has been based on holistic beliefs, then on hypothetical sciences, and finally on scientific data and research.  Through its alcoholic properties, wine is and has always been an inhibitor and a social facilitator. Since ancient times, its therapeutic properties have been used as a remedy—indeed wine was already part of the therapeutic arsenal of the Egyptians, and then was widely used by Hippocratic medicine as a curative and preventive agent. Wine, from Rome to the Middle Ages, was part of the Gaullian pharmacopoeia. Which, until Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), was considered an "act of the Gods, or of God", and was therefore recognized as a spiritual offering of God to the human soul. Its religious function until today recognizes it as a healthy, pure, spiritual, medicinal product and therefore a gift of "God" for man.


So why and how did this wine become "Evil"?

Moreover, from antiquity until the second part of the industrial era, wine was a product low in alcohol and rich in trace elements. It even replaced water in the daily consumption of people living in the countryside and cities. It was not until the nineteenth century, with industrialization and the creation of chemical yeasts, that wine reached alcohol levels of 15 to 20 degrees per liter. It was at this time that the medical interest in wine waned and was surpassed by the social and economic ravages of alcoholism. Suddenly, wine had become "The Bad". A social evil.


"On the third day there was a wedding feast at Cana of Galilee"
Jesus Turns Water into Wine....
John 2:1-11

Wine held this lowly reputation until the 1980s, when scientific studies were published that showed a positive association between regular wine consumption, especially red wine, and reductions in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. In the 2000s, the "French Paradox" became more widely known, and thus The Good of "moderate" wine consumption appeared; this is also an integral part of the benefits of the much lauded "Mediterranean diet". The health benefits are attributed to the alcohol itself, especially to the polyphenolic compounds, which are particularly rich in red wine. And so "Drinking well" (wine) once again became part of a healthy regimen. Finally, wine had emerged from purgatory and become once again an act of "good". But to respect the rule of the universal pendulum, in the last half decade wine has been thrown back into the lion's cage. So:

To whom do we owe these new demons?

Go and eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with joy, since God is already pleased with what you are doing!

Ecclesiastes 9:7

The global increase in population, from 3 billion in 1970 to 5.4 billion in the 1990s to more than 8 billion in 2020, along with the increase in wealth of consumers, particularly in Asia and Russia, has caused worldwide wine consumption to soar. This over-demand on the wine supply in turn has caused an expansion of the industrialization of wine production. Heavy machinery, super-technologies, and the availability of refined chemicals in every step of the process, from the vine to the cellar, are the consequences of a new reality of "capitalist wine" whose mantra is "get rich at any cost".  In 2018 the scientific journal "The Lancet" published an article outlining the deleterious health effects of wine and stating that drinking wine, from the first drink, is once again dangerous for health, and that wine is also the main culprit of diseases such as cancer, and the reason for early mortality in humans. But then what happened to make this nectar of the gods once again become a poison, a scourge to humanity?

I must admit that I am not a scientist, nor a doctor.

But that my common sense and a good understanding of the chemistry of wine leads me to believe that The Lancet’s worldwide research funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation did not draw a distinction between the wines of the past and the wines of today, and thus to have drawn conclusions based on generality without pointing the finger at the real culprits. Let's be honest and Cartesian, it is not the wine that is dangerous for your health, but the manipulation of GMOs, chemicals, and their transformations that are dangerous. ** I therefore propose that you look at the two factors based on scientific data that contribute to the conclusions of this research.

** Wine contains alcohol, and we cannot deny the devastating pathological and physiological effects on health, as well as its social impact on society and its economy.

Inoculated chemical yeasts.

Before the creation of inoculated chemical yeasts and technological evolution in the cellar, the average alcohol content of a so-called ordinary wine never exceeded 12.5% and in general was around 11% for fine wines, and only 7.5% to 9.4% for others. Today, alcohol contents are more likely to be between 14% and 20%, which means that a glass of today’s wine can represent the alcohol equivalent of almost two glasses of wine from the past. So, if the average consumption today is two and a half glasses, that would be equivalent to drinking an entire bottle of wine less than 40 years ago. With the lower alcohol levels of wines from the past, then, it must therefore be said that it was necessary to ingest a large amount daily to develop physical and social problems related to alcoholism. So yes, alcohol addiction develops more quickly today. But even this is not the greatest danger of the wine of today. In the past, wine came only from natural agricultural production, and wine was produced without chemicals that were extremely dangerous to health. Nowadays, it is possible to find more than 100 different chemical compounds in an industrially made wine. Most of them are scientifically known to be carcinogens and in some cases cause fatal physical degeneracies in humans.

Are there many additives in wine?

Yes, industrially made wine has many additives, though depending on the country and legislation, their numbers vary. In Europe, where wine production is highly regulated, there are about 47 chemicals allowed as additives, but more than 70 are allowed in the United States. Alas, the range is constantly expanding.  One of the permitted additives are industrial yeasts. Very often the cellar master, instead of using natural grape yeasts, will use artificial yeasts for various reasons. However, for this category of additives alone, there are more than 300 aromatic yeasts, often obtained by genetic modification, that are permitted in industrial viticulture. In addition to starting the fermentation, some give the wine certain specific tastes (exotic fruits, butter, nuts, banana, etc.).

Chemicals that can be traced back to a glass.

As for the other, chemicals that can be traced back to a glass of wine here is a very short list (I don't want to scare you more than is necessary): 

Ammonia, Arsenic, Hydrochloric Acid, Sulphur Dioxide* (and other sulphites E220, E221, E222, E223, E224, E226, E227, E228), Carbon Dioxide, Argon, Phosphate, Diammonium Sulphate, Ammonium Sulphate, Ammonium Bi-sulphite, Thiamine Dichlorydrate, Potassium Bi-Sulphite, Potassium Metabisulfite, Potassium Casein and Caseinates, Ovalbulmine, Lactalbulmin, Silicon dioxide, Pectolytic Enzymes, Betaglucanase, Sorbic Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Tartaric Acid, Neutral Potassium Tartrate, Potassium Bicarbonate, Calcium Carbonate, Lactic Acid Bacteria, Lisosymy, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid, Calcium Phytate, Calcium Alginate, Ammonium Salts, Thiamin, Allyl Isothiocyanate, Copper Sulphate, Sucrose, Lead Acetate, Mercuric Bromide, Stannous Chloride, Potassium Iodide, Nitric Acid, Sulphuric Acid, Platinum Zinc, Pure Zinc, Boric Acid, Ion Exchange Resins, Metatartaric Acid, Calcium Alginate, Potassium Alginate, Fumaric Acid, Gum Arabic. Polyoxyethylene Stearate, Dimethylposiloxane.

The list above is for chemicals used during the winemaking process, but there are also chemicals used in the vineyards that can be found in wine as well. At the time of harvest, the grapes will normally be crushed or pressed, and end up in a biphasic system, which is composed of a solid part (the cap and the lees) and a liquid part (the must), the latter of which is what is turned into wine. Any phytosanitary chemicals (e.g. fungicides, herbicides, or pesticides) that are present on the surface of the grape will come in contact with the must and persist on through the vinification process and be traceable in the wine that is ready to be consumed. In addition, as the harvested grapes from industrialized vineyards are of poor quality, it means they will need extra manipulation during vinification, resulting in the excessive addition of additives to modify and adjust the taste, color, volume, acidity, etc.

A list of the phytosanitary that can be found in industrially made wine: 

Fungicide: Boscalide - Cyprodinil - Dimethomorph - Fenhexamid - Folpet - phtamide - Iprodione - Pyyrimethanil - fungicide

Herbicide: Roundup - Glyphosate and AMPA

Pesticide: POEA

So yes, if you are drinking a glass of industrial wine, then I accept The Lancet’s conclusion "Drinking a glass of wine a day is not good for your health".


A good-for-all alternative

If you want to continue to enjoy and consume (in moderation) wine, there are alternatives to chemically laden industrial wines—you can drink wines from eco-responsible sources. Here are the four main factors:

Take care of your health by drinking organically grown wines. All practices and certifications such as: Demeter, Biodynamic, Natural, Regenerative, Organic, Sustainable, do not use synthetic phytosanitary products in the vineyards. Very often too, winemakers using these grapes will use little or no additives in the cellar.

Take care of the health of the winegrowers, the surrounding population, and the animals. Organic production doesn’t just protect your own health, it also protects the health of the land, the producers, and their community from the harmful effects of industrial agriculture. Contact with its products, including chemical fertilizers, can cause serious diseases, such as various forms of cancer, and degenerative diseases, through inhalation and/or skin contact.

Protect the planet and reduce the carbon footprint. In addition to being healthier for us, these practices have a direct impact on reducing soil, water, and air pollution. We are all responsible for doing everything in our power as consumers to leave a livable planet for future generations.

Rediscover the taste of the terroir and drink wines low in alcohol. All the grapes have a taste of aromas relative to their own varieties (Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, etc.) But in addition, they will develop distinct characteristics relating to the climates (soil, altitude, light, rainfall) of their origins. This is what we call "the taste of terroir".

Why Bonde?

Bonde’s Certification Label offers the guarantee that the products available in our store or on our website meet the standards of high quality, authenticity, fair price, but also are sourced uniquely from farmers and winemakers using eco-responsible and sustainable practices. And we deeply believe as Moderation tastes much better.


*Memorandum: My words and opinions in these newsletters are and would always be personal, and I intend to offend. I always accept that others have the full right and duty to challenge me, to argue, and, if it is necessary, excommunicate me from their beliefs (often dull and hollow) because I would act the same way if it were the other way around.