The Chardonnay Mom Asks: What’s in My Wine?

For the past decade, I’ve become increasingly aware about what goes into the gaping maws of my always hungry family. Granted, now that my kids are both in their teens, my choices are often overruled way more often than I care to admit. (Damn you, Uber Eats). But as the designated grocery store shopper, I still exert a bit of influence about what we consume.

And with the craze of the COVID-19 pandemic still very much in the picture and a soul-crushing travel ban that will last until some mystery date, this is one tiny place where I’m in control. I can choose to buy clean organic produce and responsibly-raised beef, chicken, and seafood that is free of immunity-destroying antibiotics, pesticides, and God knows what else.

So…it only makes sense to consider what goes into all the liquids we drink. And oh friend, our beloved wine industry is far from transparent.

Wines ranging from cheap, mass produced labels to your expensive reds that are reclining in your wine cellar are treated with all kinds of chemicals:

  • additives that boost color, acidity, or thickness
  • added sweeteners for taste
  • extra tannins to produce a drier taste
  • designer yeasts that can produce certain flavors such as pineapple, lemon, or peach
  • polysaccharides for a thicker mouthfeel

Winemakers are doing nothing illegal. They don’t have to disclose how they doctor their wines, and the FDA allows 250 chemicals to exist in wine. But most wine producers also aren’t transparent about it.

For more details and a highly entertaining read, check out Cork Dork: A wine-fueled adventure among the obsessive sommeliers, big bottle hunters, and rogue scientists who taught me to live for taste by Bianca Bosker.

In addition, many winemakers add egg whites or a substance made from fish bladders to clarify their wines—an important piece of information I’m sure vegans might want to know. And, alas, many grapes are grown with pesticides, particularly those in more humid climates, such as the Bordeaux and Champagne regions.

If I can get strawberries and apples without pesticides, why shouldn’t I get chemical free wine? I mean. Geez.

So I was hugely and irrationally excited to find out about Scout & Cellar, a company founded by a corporate lawyer-turned-sommelier who found that after drinking just one glass of wine for her Somm certification, she got a headache. Why, she wondered? Her research revealed much of what I describe above: Crap in your wine. So she, Sarah – her name is –started her own company that sources grapes from producers the world over who do not use pesticides and additives – as well as produce their own labels. ALL OF THE BOTTLES have 1. Grapes 2. Less than 100ppm sulfites (most have less than 50). (350ppm of sulfites are allowed, thus most other wines have much more).

That’s it.

So far so good. But would the wine actually BE good?

Oh, yes. A big fat yes. And I don’t get wine headaches or have allergic reactions any more. Gone.

You’ve seen me gush. I will continue to do so because I love these wines. (And I don’t lie about wine). Now, you can’t buy Scout & Cellar wines for $4.99/bottle. Most sell from $17-68. But you can absolutely be sure that what you’re getting is great wine, pure and simple.  


Drink this NOW:

The Scout Sampler 4-Bottle Pack: How fun to grab a hold of this handle and tote four small bottles of deliciousness to your next (socially distant) BBQ?! For $32, you’ll get:

  • 2019 Conte de la Terre Vermentino (187mL)
  • 2019 Hushkeeper Pinot Gris (187mL)
  • 2019 Fieldhouse Red Blend (187 mL)
  • 2018 Middle Jane Cabernet Sauvignon (187mL)

2019 GALLIVANT ROSÉ: What I’m drinking: I shared a bottle of this with my neighbor Caroline one sultry Sunday afternoon and fell in love with this easy-drinking blend of Syrah and Zinfandel. A perfect pink wine. $22.

GALLIVANT BUBBLY ROSÉ: Or kick it up a notch with a bubbly version. Taste strawberries, grapefruit, maybe some peaches. Yum. $26.

ADELANTES ON SALE! Stock up on three of these popular Chilean wines:

The wonderful Adelante 2019 (Chile) is creamy, goes with fish and cheese, and is vegan. Lighter mouthfeel than my beloved Gallivant, with a bonus tastes of vanilla. And it’s only $15.20 right now!

Adelante’s muy delicious Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is also a steal right now at $20! One night last week when the pandemic restrictions proved too much to bare, the hubby and I sat outside in the spittin’ rain and tried this Cab for the first time. Kevin didn’t tell me what he was pouring – and I couldn’t figure out what it was! Much lighter than Cali Cabs, for sure, with tart cherries on the front, and a smooth and surprisingly light finish. You can drink this Cab in summer!

The Adelante Sauvignon Blanc is also on sale at $15.20. I haven’t tried it, but if any of you do, I’d love to know what you think. 

Go here to purchase any of these wines, and more.

My friend Sue sent me this New Yorker cartoon. I told her a good, sturdy Cab would do the trick.

Grab that Adelante Cab on sale or try the Middle Jane Reserve, an earthy and bold Cab with heft. Or if you want to go real big, the 2017 Bernhard Cab.


Want the best deal around? The Scout Circle Wine Club is ideal if you regularly drink wine/host gatherings/gift wine. Get 4, 6, or 12 curated bottles, chosen by our CEO Sommalier, every month, every other month, or once a quarter. You choose between all whites, all reds, or mixed. Prices start at $89/four bottles. Shipping is always free, even in summer. Cancel anytime. My Scout Circle membership is how I fell in love with the company. Join here.


Need wine assistance? I’m happy to curate a selection of wines for friends, and friends in the making. Let me know what foods and flavors you like, and I will pick you some winners. I’d also to host a tasting for you and your friends be it a special occasion, a little pre-game, or you know, Wednesday.

Have a wine emergency? By all means, reach out! I do have bottles at home😊

Contact me:

OR my new addy:


About me:

I’m an executive consultant for Scout & Cellar, a wine company based in Texas that sources and creates Clean-Crafted wines from small farms and family-owned vineyards. I joined the team because these wines are delicious, made responsibly without all the chemicals, pesticides, additives, and sweeteners used frequently in other mass-produced wines, and can be consumed by many who have health issues. (Please check with your doctor). I’m also a full-time author/writer/editor; wife and mom of two teenagers, three rescue cats, and a very opinionated bulldog (see below); and native Kentuckian. I love books, travel, my friends and neighbors, and current hometown of Alexandria, Virginia.

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