Wine Questionary:

Lead poisoning - is it a concern with wine?

There have been brief bouts of publicity in recent years over issues involving the presence of lead in wine (and other alcoholic beverages).\r\n\r\nOne concern has to do with expensive decanters made out of crystal, which does contain a tiny amount of lead (apparently because it makes the glass extremely clear and bright). Some research suggests indicates that if you use lead crystal to store strongly alcoholic beverages (liquor) for a long period (months), they may leach a perceptible amount of lead into the beverage. Even in this case, the amounts involved are marginal, but since lead can cause brain damage, it's worth erring on the side of caution. So, if you use a crystal decanter, it's advisable to use it only for the evening, then put any leftover wine or liquor back into its original bottle for storage.

A second publicity flap came about around a decade or so, involving the possibility that the lead foil formerly used in wine-bottle "capsules" (the colorful foil or plastic sheath over the end with the cork in it) might contaminate the wine with lead. A widely publicized study showing startling amounts of lead in wine was flawed because the test protocol specifically forebade wiping the bottle neck clean before pouring. In any case, this concern resulted in the entire industry abandoning lead capsules almost overnight, replacing them with aluminum or plastic or, in some cases, no capsule at all. If you have an old wine bottle (vintages in the 1980s or earlier) and it has a foil capsule, it's not a bad idea to wipe the bottle neck carefully before pouring.

One other related issue goes back to ancient times: According to an old story, possibly a legend, well-to-do people in the times of the ancient Romans became sick and sometimes died because the luxury dinnerware and goblets of the time were made of lead. And you'll also occasionally hear of dinner plates from Mexico and other places being banned for import into the U.S. because of lead content. Again, though, this won't normally be an issue with your wine.\r\n

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