By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Dec 21, 2007 at 9:18 AM

Molly Snyder Edler's blog yesterday about fish bits in Guinness led to a talkbacker pointing out that the same product is used to clarify wines from California.

Being a devoted drinker of barbera and other wines from Piemonte, I asked my friend Domenico Ravizza of Vicara in Rosignano, Italy, about the use of animal gelatins in wine there. Ravizza is also president of Compagnia dei Vignaioli del Monferrato, an association of winemakers in the area. Milwaukee wine drinkers can buy a couple Vicara wines at Discount Liquor on Oklahoma Avenue.

"In effect, many gelatins used to clarify are animal-based and there are also products on the marketplace of vegetable origin. It's a product used to clarify and it doesn't leave residues in the treated product," says Ravizza via e-mail.

"There are many (such) practices that many use as the standard, above all in the large, industrial (wine) businesses and it's not required to declare their use if they don't create allergy problems."

I explained to Domenico that the question here was about whether or not the products would be considered vegetarian.

"Certainly for purist vegetarians, it could cause a problem."

However, if there is no labeling and some producers use a vegetable-based product, short of contacting every winery that produces the wine you drink, you either have to hold your nose and drink with your fingers crossed or give up the grape altogether. And no one wants the latter.  

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.