As far as can be determined, there’s no need to panic just yet over reports about a recent lawsuit alleging there is an excessive amount of arsenic in cheap wine. Totally unscientific research (the most flexible kind) reveals the following:
• Per Wikipedia, arsenic is a naturally occurring substance found in many foods; think of it as Nature's way of controlling over-population. We apparently get our Minimum Daily Requirement of arsenic whether we like it or not, so it might as well be taken with wine. Or chocolate.
• Apparently Jesus himself was confronted with this same concern at the wedding at Cana. Contrary to the “Master, we've run out of wine” story of biblical lore, St. Peter reportedly leaned over and whispered: "Jesus! Have you noticed the heavy notes of arsenic in this cheap stuff they’re serving? Can you do the water/wine switcheroo thing before this kills us all?"
• Sadly, given Sonoma’s out-of-control rents, many drinking Two Buck Chuck may be living under a bridge, which shortens lifespan far faster than any arsenic in their wine.
• With or without arsenic, too much wine could eventually kill a person anyway, so it probably makes sense to buy the best. It does one’s image no good in Sonoma to be found dead in the Barcalounger clutching a quart of Vin du Bunche-Rött.
Safety-conscious consumers can get a sense of whether the cheap wine they drink is dangerous by savoring the notes of Shrillness and hints of Vitriol in the winemakers’ reaction to the lawsuit. To wit:
“The spokesman for one company named in the suit and others in the industry argue that the lawsuit is spurious and based on misinformation. The plaintiffs ‘decided to file a complaint based on misleading and selective information in order to defame responsible California winemakers, create unnecessary fear, and distort and deceive the public for their own financial gain,’ according to an article in The Wine Spectator. (Italics added)
Whew. One possible translation: "Lawyers didn’t mention the arsenic-free stuff we peddle to rich tourists. They only talk about the cheap stuff which some winemakers make available to the poor - at a greatly reduced profit - instead of pouring it down the sewer where it could get into the rivers and poison the fish. They’re being Charitable, Green and Sustainable, but you just can’t win with some people."
The severe drought, however, is forcing winemakers to squeeze every penny of profit from grape-growing. But not all grapes yield wine that fetches $100 or $1000 a bottle. So if cheap wine doesn’t sell because of this arsenic scare, what's a Little Old Winemaker to do?
Answer: What every savvy businessperson does: Change Negatives to Positives with Magic Marketing Fertilizer. E.G.:
“Have you discovered the amazing health effects of a generous daily serving of 100% natural organic R-Snik ™? As your lawyer may have told you, cheap wine may be a great source of R-Snik ™ and no wine is cheaper than ours.
“If you avoid alcohol for health or religious reasons, we now have non-alcoholic R-Snik™ in packaged powdered form for use on your cereal, in Baby’s formula and Fido’s kibble.
“So there’s no reason the whole family can’t experience the explosive bowel-cleansing release of R-Snik ™- in kid-size chew-snacks or in the adult screw-top bottle that looks, and occasionally tastes, like real wine.
“It’s the perfect party relaxer for guests who may be watching their heart rate monitors, and in our patented slow-release tablet form or gallon jug six-packs, it can be a no-stress alternative to a contentious and expensive divorce.
“R-Snik™ - It’s not just for rats anymore.”