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Subject:  Re: Chemical Treatments of Grapes Date:  8/8/2000  10:42 AM
Author:  SunQuing Number:  208 of 335

<<Does anyone know what chemicals are used and what the effects are on serious wine
drinkers. Maybe that's why they say we live longer drinking wine. We're bug proofed.>>

Grapes are sprayed with many things, most often fungicides, occasionally insecticides. Generally, most fungicide applications occur in the spring and early summer, long before harvest. These chemicals will break down or get washed off long before harvest.

However, there are occasionally summertime sprays, the most troubling of which is a material called captan, which is commonly sprayed on many fruits and other crops. It is intended to prevent fruit rots. It's a probable carcinogen, and can be used up to four days before harvest. For fresh fruits, especially apples and grapes, I recommend washing before consumption, which takes care of the residue.

For wine, you really don't have that option. Wineries cannot wash the fruit before processing as it would cause serious problems in production (diluted juice). Thus, whatever was on the grapes is in the wine.

Having said that, first, you don't really know there were any potentially harmful chemicals applied within two weeks of harvest--longer than that, and they'd break down in the sun even if they weren't washed off. Second, the concentrations of these chemicals is most likely insignificant. Third, if you were to consume a sufficient quantity of wine (read: large) to have these concentrations increase your risk of cancer, I'd have to say the vastly excessive quantity of ethanol you'd have consumed would be a much larger health risk.

Thus, you can do one of three things: forget about it, knowing that any risk is immaterial; buy wine made from organically grown grapes; or ask the winery what they spray within two weeks of harvest. Most often the answer will probably be nothing. However, for grapes they have purchased, they probably don't know.

The greatest health risk from pesticides is to the farmer, not the consumer.
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