The Origin of Wine Additives

Wine additives were invented soon after the invention of winemaking. Persians began using pine resin to protect their wines from rotting as early as 4100 B.C. To boost flavor, the ancient Greeks also blended their wines with fragrances, herbs, brines, and even seawater.

Dr. Harold Olmo was a viticulturist who developed over 30 grape types throughout his lifetime. One of them was the grape from which Mega Purple and Ultra Red are made. He crossed the grape Alicante Ganzin, a hybrid of Vitis rupestris and Vitis vinifera plants, with the Vinifera Tinto Cão to create another hybrid.

Rubired was the result. The goal of cultivating Rubired was to produce fortified wine with high yields in hot areas, yet there was something distinctive about this grape. Rubired has colored flesh, unlike other red grapes, which have transparent flesh and the wine obtains its color from the skins.  Rubired is an essential ingredient in the mega purple dye that may be added to wine.

When Was Mega Purple Dye First Introduced?

In 1992, Mega Purple was introduced as a natural coloring additive by a subsidiary of the large wine brand, Constellation Wines. According to Constellation Wines’ VP of Research and Development, the wine industry uses 20% of the yearly production of Mega Purple. Winemakers may save money on production by utilizing Mega Purple to enhance their low-end wines with this additive’s rich color. It’s unclear how many winemakers utilize this masking technique because the wine industry as a whole is tight-lipped about it. There is no information on how Mega Purple can affect wine consumers because no one knows how much is added to wines every year. 

Did you know? It is very difficult to recognize if Mega Purple has been added to the wine.

Wine Additives and Legit American Chemicals

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Colored Dyes and Other Additives in Today’s Wine

Wine additives are widely used in the winemaking industry. There’s also a discussion among winemakers over whether color additives are a sign of scientific advancement and should be welcomed into the winemaking process. Or are they just shortcuts to improve poor quality wine? While there are some wines with food coloring, it should be noted that most wines are free from dyes. And these additives are usually only found in the cheapest wines on the market. Dye is rarely seen in expensive, high-quality wines.

This Day in Wine History

4100B.C: Wine additives were invented not long after the invention of winemaking. Persians began using pine resin to protect their wine from spoiling in 4100 B.C.

1992:  Mega Purple was introduced as a natural coloring additive to wine by a subsidiary of the multinational Constellation Wines.

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Berger, Dan, Wines & Vines (March 2006). Mega Purple