Blood in French Wines

You've heard the story, perhaps from BusinessWeek or another source. Europe banned genetically modified crops coming from the US. In retaliation, the US decided to ban wines that had blood added to them. Consumers panic - what do they MEAN blood is in wine??

First, let's explain what blood was historically used for in wine, centuries ago. Wine back then, just like beer and cider of the age, was extremely cloudy and full of extra 'stuff'. To drag out the extra proteins, wineries would use a clarifying, or fining agent. This agent could be clay, egg whites, or yes, sometimes blood. The substance would fall through the wine, attracting the proteins as it went. The resulting larger clumps could then be kept separate from the wine.

In modern times, fining is used only on certain wines. It can be done with egg whites, chemicals or inert clays. Most wine drinkers don't even think about fining agents at all, since the material is removed from the wine long before the wine is bottled. Fining is not used only in wine. Fining is also done to many beer types, to keep the beer crystal clear and fresh looking.

This fining and clarifying is quite different than filtering. You can filter but not fine, or fine but not filter. Filtering uses filter paper, usually, and is done on a size-of-object basis. It uses the same principle as a water filter does on a faucet.

Is blood used in current times? First off, it is explicitly illegal to use blood in both the US and France, and is extremely uncommon in other countries. Most wineries would choose to use other agents, such as egg whites. Bordeaux is known for its use of egg whites.

So drink your French wine without fear! Blood is not used, fining is something done only to certain wines, and the fining agents are removed anyway. Vegans might be concerned over the use of egg whites as a fining agent, since some small amount of egg white might remain in the wine. For most people, the use of fining agents is just one more interesting part of the winemaking process to learn about and understand.

Fining a Wine

Wine Myths Information
Wine History Information

All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.