Starting in the summer 2012, Canadian wine drinkers can look forward to a warning label on wine bottles that the product may contain fish, eggs or milk.
These ingredients have been used as clarifying agents as part of the post-fermentation process for years, but now Health Canada is pointing them out more obviously in order to alert allergy sufferers and those with food intolerances. A derivative of sturgeon bladders, egg whites, milk proteins, clay and gelatin can all be used in the fining process, which is similar to filtration in that these ingredients help separate sediment from clear wine.
Beppi Crosariol of the Globe and Mail explains that "It’s a stretch to call such substances ingredients, frankly, because they’re used to manufacture wine. They’re not mixed like preservatives or flavourings."
Moreover, the allergy threat from these substances is "purely anecdotal – if it exists at all," says Crosariol. George Soleas, senior vice-president of logistics and quality assurance at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, has never found an allergy complaint related to fish, eggs or milk in wine.
On the other side of the ocean, the European Union permits over 50 food agents to be used in the winemaking process, though not necessarily in the finished product. Check out the list of all the potential ingredients here.