Wine Additives


You are what you drink! Do you know what’s in your wine?


The approach to making wine varies widely among producers of wine. There is wine made by passionate small farmers and winemakers who value the natural properties of the fruit and the wine. Then, there are the bulk wine producers that turn out millions of liters of wine every year. It is not surprising that the latter style of winemaking would embrace the use of additives that allow them to make wine more cheaply or efficiently.

It turns out that most consumers have no idea what is occasionally, and sometimes frequently, done to their wine during the winemaking process as well as what may be added to the bottle. We think you may be surprised to see a list of additives that are currently allowed in the US. These are ingredients you may not see on a label but could be added to your wine without your knowledge.

Since labeling on wine is so unclear at times, it is part of our mission at Mountain Peoples Wine Distributing to aid in educating our customers, employees and communities and to find winemakers that take pride in their wines and bring these wines to you.

  • Ammonium phosphate -- assists in fermentation, can help accelerate fermentation.
  • Diammonium phosphate -- assists in fermentation, can help accelerate fermentation.
  • Benzoic acid, and potassium and sodium salts of benzoic acid – prevents fermentation of sugar in wine being accumulated as distilling material
  • Carbohydrase (alpha-amylase, beta-amylase, glucoamylase, amyglucosidase) – converts starches to fermentable carbohydrates
  • Copper sulfate – eliminates hydrogen sulfide and other sulfur compounds like mercaptan
  • Hydrogen peroxide – reduces the bisulfate aldehyde complexin distilling material
  • Potassium permanganate – oxidizing agent
  • Sodium hydroxide – acid neutralizing agent
  • Sulfuric acid – effects favorable yeast development in distilling material; prevents fermentation of sugar in wine being accumulated as distilling material; lowers pH in order to prevent putrefaction and/or ethyl acetate development
  • Defoaming agents (polyoxyethylene40 monostearate, silicon dioxide, dimethylpolysiloxane, sorbitanmonostearate, glycerol mono-oleate and glyceryl dioleate) – controls foaming
  • Malic acid -- added to boost acidity of wine.
  • Tartaric acid -- added to boost acidity of wine.
  • Silica Gel/Silicon dioxide -- used to filter and fine wine.
  • Edible gelatin -- used to clarify and fine wine (remove sediments).
  • Gum arabic -- used to clarify wine (remove sediments). Up to .24 grams per liter can be used for treatment.
  • Aluminum silicates (bentonite or kaolin) -- used to clarify/fine wine.
  • Miscellaneous filtration substances (diatomaceous earth, cellulose, etc.) -- used to filter wine.
  • Polyvinyl-polypyr-rolidone -- used to modify color of wine, reduce tannins. Up to 7.19 grams per liter allowed for treatment.
  • Activated charcoal -- used to filter wine and improve color. Up to 3 grams per liter allowed for treatment.
  • Distilled alcohol -- used to fortify alcohol levels in wine.
  • Cellulase -- enzyme that assists in the hydrolization of cellulose, a key process in fermentation.
  • Protease -- enzyme that kills some bacterial agents and makes wine less heat-sensitive and less likely to throw sediment.
  • Yeast -- required agent of the fermentation process, converts sugar from grapes into alcohol and lots of tasty flavors.
  • Yeast cell walls -- bits of yeast cells that absorb anthocyanins (bitter tasting compounds) during red wine production and make the wine smoother.
  • Lysosome – used to stabilize wine from malolactic acid bacterial degradation
  • Ascorbic acid --preservative, anti-bacterial agent.
  • Fumaric acid (3 grams per liter, max) -- used to boost acidity of wine.
  • Lactic acid -- used to boost acidity of wine, improve texture.
  • Casein -- used to clarify wine / remove sediment.
  • Isinglass -- a fish product used to clarify wine / remove sediment.
  • Milk/lactalbumin -- used to clarify wine / remove sediment.
  • Ovalbumin (egg whites) -- used to clarify wine / remove sediment.
  • Ferrous sulfate -- used to clarify wine. 0.0222 grams per liter allowed in finished wine.
  • Lactic bacteria -- used to reduce the acidity of wine.
  • Potassium carbonate -- used to reduce the acidity of wine down to acid levels of 5 grams per liter only.
  • Potassium bicarbonate -- used to reduce the acidity of wine.
  • Calcium carbonate -- used to reduce the acidity of wine down to acid levels of 5 grams per liter only.
  • Copper sulfate -- used to suppress bacterial growth, eliminate off odors. 6 mg per liter allowed for treatment. .5mg per liter allowed in finished wine.
  • Oak chips -- used to improve wine flavor.
  • Acetaldehyde -- inhibits microbial growth and stabilizes the color of wine. Up to 300 parts per million used in treatment. up to .5mg per liter allowed in finished wine.
  • Granular cork -- used to smooth the texture of wines. Up to 1.2 grams per liter may be used for treatment.
  • Catalase -- enzyme that counters bacterial agents in wine.
  • Glucose oxidase -- enzyme used to keep color of white wine stable with age.
  • Urease -- enzyme used to reduce sediments in wine.
  • Thiamine hydrochloride -- food for yeast that is used to help finish fermentation.
  • Soy flour -- food for yeast to increase and encourage secondary fermentation.
  • Sorbic acid -- preservative.
  • Sulfur dioxide -- preservative, anti-bacterial agent.
  • Nitrogen -- preservative.
  • Dimethyl dicarbonate -- preservative.
  • Carbon dioxide – preservative and stabilizer
  • Potassium metabisulphite -- bacterial inhibitor and preservative.
  • Potassium sorbate -- bacterial inhibitor and preservative used in conjunction with potassium and copper sulfites.
  • Ferrocyanide compounds -- used in clarifying/fining wines. Only allowed at 1 part per million in finished wine.
  • Citric acid -- occasionally used to increase acid levels of white wines. Allowed use of .7 grams per liter.
  • Potassium bitartrate -- stabilizer, prevents sedimentation.
  • Fruit concentrate of same grape variety -- used to improve color and flavor.

Information can be found on the website of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau -

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