Fishy wine anyone?

Search around in the fine print on the back of a New Zealand wine label and you’re likely to find a statement saying “milk and fish products have been used to fine this wine. Traces may remain.” Or “Egg whites were used during this process. Traces may remain.”

Those statements are called Allergen declarations. They reveal the name of anything that is potentially allergenic and has been used in the winemaking process. Egg whites, for example, have been used to clarify red wine for centuries. In most cases the wine is subsequently filtered making it pretty unlikely that traces of egg white remain. Other fining agents include isinglass from the swimming bladder of a fish and casein (milk product). Fining agents are added to wine to remove undesirable products in suspension. The fining agent filters through the wine, clustering with the suspended solid and falling to the bottom of the barrel or tank as sediment which is then removed.

Allergen declarations are required on all New Zealand and Australian wines and will be required on wines from the EU from 2011.


First published in KiaOra Magazine – Sep 2009.

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