Safety first: drink wine

By Alyssa Salcido

HERMANN, Mo.— You don’t typically think about microorganisms when you pop a wine cork at a Missouri winery and in fact, this has been true throughout history: wine was consumed without worry. Water, however, was often contaminated.

“Wine has always been safe to drink, even 1,000 years ago, water could kill, but wine was always safe,” said Dave Johnson, senior winemaker at Stone Hill Winery.

Johnson pic_Salcido

Dave Johnson, senior winemaker at Stone Hill Winery shares points about the history of wine on a vineyard tour. Photo by Alyssa Salcido

In history, the wine process had antibacterial power. Johnson explained that once the alcohol is present the drink is impervious to microorganisms.

“Water made wine safe, but wine also made water safe,” Tom Standage said in History of the World in Six Glasses. “As well as being free pathogens, wine contains natural antibacterial agents liberated during the fermentation process.”

Today it’s all a careful game of chemistry. Winemakers have perfected a measured exposure to certain elements. But keep in mind once your bottle is opened, it can expire due to exposure to oxygen. Red wine has about two weeks and white wine only has about three days before the wine begins to turn into acetic acid, giving the wine a vinegary taste. Even then, the wine is not unsafe to drink, but your taste buds may not agree.

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Filed under MU School of Journalism, wine

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