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What's in your glass?

Updated on July 21, 2016


Have you ever woken up on a Saturday morning after a night on the town and asked yourself – ‘what did I drink’?

Makers of alcoholic drinks don’t need to display the ingredients on their labels. They are unique in this respect as all other food and drink makers need to clearly list their ingredients by law. It seems that a hangover might be the least of our worries.

Harmful Chemicals

Wine has sulphur dioxide added to it to preserve it and keep its colour (exposure to light may otherwise cause wines to ‘brown’). Many of us are allergic to sulphur dioxide and will suffer from prolonged pressure headaches and heartburn among other symptoms after consuming even a little wine.

Some alcoholic drinks use artificial colours; red colours often come from the innocently named ‘caramel’ colours also known as the ‘E150s’. As the name ‘caramel’ suggests they contain heated sugar however these are combined with slightly less innocent chemicals. For E150a the caramel colour comes from sugar heated with acids or alkalis, E150b the sugar is heated with sulphur dioxide, E150c it’s the highly corrosive chemical ammonia, E150d its ammonia and sulphur. Needless to say these artificial chemicals cause a wide range of allergic reactions.

Cow's stomach and fish bladders

Isinglass is added to drinks to get rid of suspended proteins to make it clearer. Isinglass is the dried swim bladder of fish. Not great news if you are vegetarian or vegan. Then again neither is the protease (from pig or cows stomach), Gelatine (made from boiling skin, bones, ligaments etc) or the milk products used to remove unwanted flavours.


Insects love to eat grapes and grape vines. Farmers spray the vines with pesticides that kill these unwanted insects. Many of these pesticides are harmful to us and cause asthma, allergies, hypersensitivity and mild neurological damage. Vineyards should wash the grapes before use, however they don’t tend to as the grapes get punctured and damaged during the automated picking process. The collecting vats are already full of mush and grape juice so any attempt at washing would dilute the product.

Some wine producers declare that their wine is made with organic grapes, this may well be the case however there are often other chemicals added as the wine is prepared.

What can we do about it?

if you really want to know what is in your alcoholic drinks, make them yourself. This is fun, it will save you a fortune and you’ll quickly find you can make drinks of a superior quality to the junk you buy in the shops and the ingredients; 100% pure.

Lemon juice, root ginger, pure grape juice, yeast, honey, sugar, chilli peppers, pure apple juice and raisins – now that’s what I call ingredients.

Try this Kindle book: Breaking booze, it’ll get you started without the purchase of any specialised equipment using ingredients and equipment you’ll find in your local supermarket. You’ll make your money back on the first batch and from then on you’ll wonder how it was that the drinks industry had such a hold on you.


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