Mega Purple: The Secret Ingredient in Your Vino

If you’re a big wine aficionado, you probably already know about Mega Purple. But when I stumbled upon it over the weekend, I was pretty surprised.

When you read about wine, you hear all kinds of positive things—how beneficial a glass a day can be for your health, how delicious it is, how amazingly intricate the process of making wine is, how natural wine itself is.

It turns out that wine isn’t always 100% natural… or, at least, not in the way many of us would think. In a world full of food additives from everything to growth hormones to preservatives to colors, it’s really not that surprising.

Mega Purple, a food additive made by grapes, is used to add color to many “cheaper” wines, but it has also been known to alter the taste of wine, as well as the texture. It’s used by most wines below $20 in the United States in order to—get this—standardize wine.

Don’t you think that’s sort of weird? Chalk it up to watching Sideways and French Kiss too much, but I always thought that each wine was supposed to have a distinct, separate flavor, color and texture composed of a variety of subtleties that only wine lovers can properly identify, and even they often can’t guess each and every one since the process is so amazing and beautiful and mysterious—as if every vineyard were its own Shangri-La, every sip its own Eden.

Okay, that’s probably a bit romantic, but still—standardizing wine to make it more uniform just seems like a crime to me. What do you think?

Mega Purple is also known as Mega Cherry Shade Grape Juice Concentrate, Mega Purple Grape Juice Concentrate, and Mega Red Grape Juice Concentrate. (Doesn’t that just sound like kool-aid added to your wine?)

Many people hate the fact that Mega Purple is added to wine, believing that each wine’s tasting experience should rely on the wine itself and not additives. It’s also considered to be a mark of poor wine-making by many enthusiasts.

The additive is supposed to be 100% natural itself, to be sure—it’s made out of grapes. So the argument isn’t really that the final product itself is no longer really natural, but that the wine definitely has had some work done.

Does it really matter as long as you still like the wine? Mega Purple isn’t really hurting anyone, after all—it’s not like adding pesticides or harmful ingredients. Still, the very question makes many wine lovers cringe. What’s your opinion? Is it okay for winemakers to use Mega Purple?  


WinePurist's picture


Another trick up the vintner's sleeve is Chaptalization. Chaptalization is like Dossage, except it is sugar added to the wine before primary fermentation. Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and other warm AVA's don't do it as much as cooler terroirs such as Alsace, Germany, and New Zealand.

Sarajean, do you know what the practice is for Washington Wines for both Mega-Purple and chaptalization.


Hmm, afraid I don't! This is the first I've heard of chaptalization, and from what I've read, mega purple is a pretty secretive process.