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Yes, There’s Arsenic In Your Cheap Wine. Now Relax

on 28/03/15 at 1:50 pm


arsenic wine longWow. So apparently a class action lawsuit has been brought against makers of low-price-point California wines that have been found to contain nightmarishly-high levels of arsenic. First, here is the list of implicated wines. Do you drink these wines? Scary? Scary!

This suit has touched off a high profile volley of wine-pundits and scientists, both actual and pseudo, over whether the claims hold water. Some people are saying there is misinformation and exaggeration. Some people, like this guy, are crying hoax.

You’re a hardworking IT professional or project manager who leans on Trader Joe’s for reasonable grocery receipts and you love the feeling of not having to sell a kidney to buy wine, because let’s face it, you can metabolize it way better with two kidneys. How do you know if you have a major shopping dilemma, or indeed a simmering health crisis, on your hands?

Long story short, it ain’t just Two Buck Chuck that’s dirty – this whole fracas is suspect. So here’s a quick primer on Poison from another person with no credentials in science but a pretty intense number of field hours in wineries.

How does wine get contaminated with arsenic?

Arsenic is a poison that naturally occurs in soil. (Atomic number 33 on the periodic table of elements.) Plant roots can assimilate it in the natural course of growth. It can be a component of pesticides. It can also enter wine that is filtered for clarity using bentonite clay. Arsenic is present in drinking water and in a variety of foods. Federal regulations stipulate 10ppb as an acceptable arsenic level for drinking water based on a projected consumption of two liters per person per day. There is no established “safe” level for wine in the US, but may I suggest that if you drink 2 liters of wine a day, you just might have bigger problems than arsenic?

Yes, okay, but seriously, I have a pretty intense Ménage à Trois Moscato habit. Am I at risk?

In my professional opinion you are very much at risk for a dull throbbing headache behind your eyeballs.