I attended a technical symposium of the South African “Metode Cap Classique” Sparkling wine Association on Wednesday. The first two talks of the day were on CMC (carboxymethyl cellulose) and its use in cold stabilisation. It is derived from a natural product that through a chemical process in a factory achieves its specific functionality and it has been around many industries including the food industry for many years. It is found in all ice-creams as the component keeping it “creamy” instead of becoming icy and is known as food additive E466. In food the legal dose is 10g/kg. In wine the legal dose according to the OIV is 10g/hl. Theoretically one can consume 1 kg of Häagen Dazs in one go (I can) but it is not possible to consume 100L of wine in one go (although many a university student has tried this). The product is not likely to cause any allergic reactions and the lethal CMC dose for a man of 80 kg is 100 000 L of wine. Death by alcohol poisoning will thus come first. HOWEVER, CMC is allowed by the OIV and in most wine producing countries except for the USA.  It is considered safe for a three year old to eat it ice-cream but not for an adult to drink it in wine.

Another rather strange rule is that of Natamycin. It is prohibited for use in any wine imported into the European Union. It is an antimycotic (anti-fungus, anti-yeast) which is particularly useful to prevent re-fermentation in the bottle in the case of wines containing a fair amount of residual sugar. There are even speculations that it can be effective against Brett. I am not sure how true this is. The OIV views it as an “antibiotic” which is something that is effective against bacteria and not yeast.  It is therefore not permitted for use in wine. The strange thing is that Natamycin is used in most cheese coatings to prevent cheeses from going mouldy.  And Europe is a BIG cheese eating nation!

There are various other issues that I could speak my mind on but not without getting fired though. Look out for the pseudonym Poentjie Smit.

Karien O’Kennedy is the editor of New World Winemaker Blog