In our last number we promised to say something further on this interesting subject, and in doing so we shall call attention to one of the most remarkable pieces of impudence that has, for some time, fallen to our lot to chronicle. When we take wine with a friend, or buy it for our own use, we do so having an honest faith that it is pure ; and we should little suspect that any one would purposely attempt to deceive us, by giving or selling us that which they knew to be bad liquor ; yet we shall be obliged to doubt every wine, now that, (as many of our readers have doubtless seen,) a chemist advertises in the daily papers of this city, his "flavorings to produce, at a-moment's notice, any desired liquor." We are told that great improvements have lately been made in this branch of business, i. e., adulteration ; and in consequence, we can purchase of the aforesaid chemist a gallon or more of the essence or oil of any desired liquor, and by merely adding one barrel of pure spirits, the liquor will be manufactured, "fairly comparing with the best brands." Brandy of " four times the value of the original cost " can be thus artificially made ; and lastly, an oil for producing Catawba brandy is sold at a moderate price. These substances are all made and sold in New York, and no doubt, large quantities are consumed all over the country, the consumers imagining that they are drinking a genuine article. This craving for foreign flavor and foreign names has in a great measure ruined [the American wines as American, for, says a writer in Hunt's Merchants' Magazine, " a great evil in the manufacture of American wine consists in the endeavor to imitate foreign varieties—adulterations and all ; and it is owing to this that we have no American wine." It is asserted that there is not a solf-supporting vineyard in the United States, except the one producing Catawba ; and with the exception of one or two in California, not a fair sample of American wine. The sparkling Catawba of 1848 was a peculiar wine, having a flavor that has never been imitated, and which had not been before known ; but that is now scarce, and many inferior and adulterated varieties are passed upon the unwary for the genuine article. The only and perfect Way to discourage adulteration is to patronize and encourage home-grown wines, and accept them as such. It is very probable that, at the onset, they may be a little more expensive ; but if, by paying a little more, we can get a pure article, it is well worth the extra expense. We are afraid that if a commission was appointed to examine the liquors retailed over bars in this city alone, they would find very few quite pure. In gin would be discovered turpentine and peppermint ; in brandy, burnt sugar of the worst description, andbadspirits; whiskey would contain camphene ; port wine, infusion of logwood ; sherry, adulterated spirits called brandy, and other mixtures ; champagne would prove old gooseberry ; and claret would be difficult to examine, so multifarious would its ingredients be found. Without going any further than our own office, patents have been taken out through the Scientific American Agency for making champagne from cider, by impregnating it with carbonic acid ; and we understand that the business is not only a successful but a large one. Another, for giving to wines and spirits, by artificial means, in six months, that age and maturity which, in a natural way, many years could only bring. In fact, it is impossible to enumerate the impositions that are practised, and it is high time that some examination of the purity of eatables and drinkables was made by the authorities of every city. There is no doubt that a board of examiners, chemists, microscopists, and others, Shaving power to purchase, examine, and condemn all articles unfit for human consumption, would tend to increase the health of our cities and the honesty of dealers. Such a tribunal must some day be appointed, and the sooner the better, say we.
This article was originally published with the title "Wine Adulteration" in Scientific American 13, 24, 189 (February 1858)