I am not the first to write something about the arsenic scandal in the wine world and certainly will not be the last. In fact, I wasn’t going to jump into the fray at all until I read the satirical article by the HoseMaster himself. I laughed at what he wrote, and agree with the more serious comments he made (if you can call anything he writes,serious) after the piece.

Wine is not the only thing out there with trace amounts of arsenic and if you ask me, I would rather consume a little arsenic than a Twinkie any day. I’m not sure which will kill you quicker, but my bets hedge towards a Twinkie. Like I told someone at the store I work at, at least I am building up an immunity to arsenic so that if someone tries to seriously poison me, I have a greater chance of survival.

The other annoying part of all this is the group that continues to insist on wineries listing all the ingredients on the label. Really? I’d be happy if they just listed the grapes they use and the percentages. Most folks I know wouldn’t take the time to read what is in the wine let alone understand what some of the ingredients are. Have you ever read the ingredients in a Snicker Bar? I tried once, gave up and scarfed it down. I don’t eat many Snicker Bars simply because I want to keep my original teeth and my waistline. However, I do drink my fair share of wine, and at my last physical the benefits were obvious. My good cholesterol was so high, it balanced out the bad cholesterol. The doctor who knows me just smiled, saying that there is no doubt the red wine is helping. I should ask him on the next check-up to do a blood analysis and see if there are any traces of arsenic. If there was, he would probably tell me to lay-off the Snickers Bars (you know I’m kidding. Right?).

I think they should start requiring produce suppliers to put the ingredients found in a head of lettuce or an apple. Imagine if they listed the level of sulphites in a bag of grapes. I’m sure the folks that think they are allergic to sulfites might make an exception. However, I could hear a bunch of youngsters telling their parents that they probably shouldn’t eat salad because of the dangerous levels of sulphites.

I believe that if anyone wants to point fingers, it should be at the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). This is the organization that decides what levels of any element should be allowed in the food we eat. I’ve been told that one fast food restaurant in the U.S. has over fifty chemicals or ingredients in their food that are not even allowed in some countries. All these chemicals and ingredients are deemed acceptable by the FDA. That being said, we may decide not to eat at certain establishments because we believe it is not good for our health. However, many partake of the food on a regular basis and live a long and healthy life. Who gives a crap about trace amounts of arsenic in wine. I would be happier if they outlawed cigarettes or chewing tobacco. Just think how much healthier our society would be if just those two habits could be abolished. Freedom is a cherished commodity and I would never want to intrude on someone’s right to decide what they put in their body. Inexpensive red wine is not the problem. Trader Joes is not the problem. Fred Franzia is not the problem. Ignorance and fear are usually the problem behind any misconceptions, and some folks out there love to feed into both of these.

Remember the blogger that sensationalized the FireBall misunderstanding? The blogger used something that happened with a shipment of FireBall (a cinnamon whisky) to Europe that was rejected because of an ingredient that was at too high a level. That same shipment was allowed in the U.S. because the FDA approved of the level of that ingredient in this country. That blogger fed into to the fear and ignorance of the masses, and sales of FireBall slowed down for quite a while. Time heals all wounds, and the folks who drank FireBall and quit for a while are now back at it. Funny, but I have not seen anyone die from Fire Ball consumption in moderation yet. Once again, our trust has to lie in the governing body that does the research and decides what our body can or cannot handle. I would never encourage blindly following any organization just because they have authority to make decisions about our health. I still don’t want to consume irradiated vegetables, even though the FDA says it’s o.k. Sorry, but that just seems wrong to me. However, I do not have the research to say that it would be bad for me. It’s just a personal choice.

If you are really scared about trace amounts of arsenic in your wine, do the research, don’t jump to conclusions. When I say research, I don’t mean bloggers out there who sensationalize the situation and get off on striking fear into the hearts of their readers (there are a lot of them out there). The research I am talking about is real research. Go to the FDA website and see what they have to say about it. Google arsenic and see how harmful it is in trace amounts (Arsenic is found in the soil as the chemical compound As). Go to other well established research sources and do your best to get to the bottom of things. I believe you will find that you have nothing to fear. Let’s not get all worked up and try to force wineries to put a list of ingredients on the back of labels. We may find that only the U.S. wineries will have to do it and other countries won’t. Would that be fair. Let’s face it, after time goes by, we will simply buy the bottle of wine and drink it, and still be more concerned about which grapes are in the wine and not the actual break down of ingredients.

We consume a lot of things and have a lot of habits that are far worse for us than a glass of inexpensive red from California. Bottom line… Listen to your common sense and judgement, not to fear-mongers out there who just like to whip the masses into a frenzy without doing any hard-core research. Wineries are not in the business of poisoning people. They want wine drinkers to be long-time customers. Killing them is not an option. The only folks who are trying to hurt wine drinkers are the very ones who claim to be wine advocates…The wine bloggers out there who spend more time on the negative than the positive. Drink wine, enjoy it, life is too short (not because of wine) to sweat the small stuff.

Stan The Wine Man

About Stan The Wine Man

I am a blue collar wine guy who has been in the biz for over twenty years. I work at a store in a tourist destination stop. I work hard at finding the best wine for the money. I love the challenge of learning my customer's palate so I can find the best wine for them, whether it is Petrus or white zinfandel. Cheers!
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