It is a fact that fish bladders are useful in the process of making wine (and beer for that matter). Before you imagine something slimy and smelly, let me explain that the fish bladders are dried and consist largely of collagen that has been found to attract bitter tannins and phenolics. So the winemaker can add a bit of fish bladder to pick up these bits not wanted in the wine and then it can be filtered out again. The result is superb clarity for white wines – a bit like holey apples, cloudy wine isn’t that appealing to consumers.
However, the tinest traces of fish bladder could potentially remain in the wine. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) make it mandatory to declare this because some people are allergic to fish. While producers don’t exactly have to write “with hints of fish bladder” in the tasting notes, they do have to put it on the label somewhere that it may contain traces of it. Some companies have chosen not to use it anymore for fear of putting off consumers. Fortunately for Fiasco we have chosen not to use fish bladders in the production of our wine because its clarity was good enough as it was.
However, FSANZ are now considering removing the mandatory label because research has now found the use of the fish bladders “doesn’t raise any safety concerns for the consumers allergic to fish.” They are seeking public comment on this. What do you think? Personally, I think it’s important that food is well labelled, that we know what we are eating and drinking (… Warning: This baby formula contains excessive melamine that may kill). Although the fish bladder may not cause an allergic reaction, what about vegetarians? Or would they prefer not know than to have to forego wine ? On the other hand, is this labelling going overboard when we are talking about something that is added then removed again?