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Does your favorite bottle of wine have high levels of arsenic in it?

california wineWe don’t want to ruin your buzz, but when you’re at the wine store shopping for your dinner party (or restocking pre Thursday’s Scandal episode), you might have to look out for more than just the organic seal or how much sulfur dioxide a bottle has.

A new lawsuit fermenting on the West Coast alleges that dozens of California wineries are knowingly selling bottles of wine spiked with dangerously high levels of arsenic, and the brand names in the suit are probably ones you’ve sipped on, like Cupcake, Menage a Trois, and even Trader Joe’s Two-Buck Chuck.

So how concerned should you be? Arsenic is a famously scary sounding chemical, but it isn’t necessarily unhealthy—environmental arsenic occurs naturally in soil and water. The danger crops up when a particular source has poisonous levels. That’s one of the reasons you treat water you find in a stream while hiking before gulping it down.

The EPA standard for the allowable amount of arsenic in drinking water is 10 parts per billion (ppb), but some of these wines reportedly contain three, four, or five times that amount.

And while that sounds a little scary, it’s unclear if the EPA drinking water standard should be the same for your fave whites and reds (which go through a fermenting process, after all).

So while it’s hard to tell whether you should start springing for a more expensive bottle or skip the California wines entirely, it’s a pretty good excuse to stick to superfood cocktails until we know more… —Molly Gallagher

(Photo: Molly Gallagher)