Why Do They Add Sulfites To Wine
It so happens that sulfites are the preservative system that has the least impact on the organoleptic properties of the wine. Also, they are remarkably able to selectively inhibit the bad yeast and bacteria that can cause spoilage during the fermentation process. At the same time, sulfites do not affect the good yeast that are necessary for converting the sugars in grape juice into alcohol. They are widely used and can be added at different points of the winemaking process, giving more control over the final product. The amounts and the moment they’re added depends on the style of the wine and the residual sugar that is desired to provide sweetness. They are used to maintain the flavor, color, aromas and unwanted refermentation. Wines without added sulfites are challenging for the winemakers, and normally have shortened shelf-lives.
Should We All Be Drinking Low Sulfite Wine
McKenzie Hagan | February 23, 2021
As much as we love wine, it can make us feel a little rough if we overindulge. If you often wake up with a wine headache, you may wonder if theres something in wine that doesnt agree with you. Could your hangover actually be caused by sulfites? And, could low sulfite wine be the answer to your prayers?
With many companies boasting about their low sulfite wine, or sulfite-free wines, you may think these are the holy grail of headache-free wine drinking. But unfortunately its really not as simple as that.
In this article we break down the truth about sulfites. Are the sulfites in your wine causing you harm, or is it all just scaremongering? Read on to find out.
Should I Be Concerned About Sulfites In Wine
If you have a sensitivity to sulfites in foods such as french fries, cured meats, cheese, and canned soup, you should try to sulfite-free wines. Or, eliminate wine . Fortunately, several do not use sulfites in processing. These wines can taste a lot different than what youre used to, but some are fantastic!
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What Are Sulfites And Where Do They Come From
Sulfur dioxide , or sulfites as they are best known in the wine world, is a chemical compound that occurs naturally at low levels during the process of wine fermentation. It is also added by many winemakers during the fermentation stage of winemaking to protect and preserve the wine’s character, flavor, and color. Sulfur dioxide is both antimicrobial and antioxidant — making it one of the top allies available to vintners, as it impedes the oxidation of the wine and prevents it from fermenting its way to vinegar. Sulfur dioxide is also utilized in most wineries as part of the housekeeping regime harsh chemicals would be a tough sell as a cleaning option for fermentation tanks, equipment, hoses, valves, and other process hardware so sulfur dioxide is often the cleaner of choice.
Does European Red Wine Have Sulfites
European red wines do indeed contain sulfites. Yet, if you are in search of wine with a minimal amount of sulfites, red wine, in general, will be the ultimate choice. This is because red wines, in general, contain fewer added sulfites.
Also, any organic red wines will have an added sulfite level that stands below average or contains no added sulfite. According to research, red, organic wines originating from or in Frances regions will most likely have the lowest amounts of added sulfites. This is ultimately due to many factors, including location, type of wine, and the unique creation process of the wine.
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Wonderful Wine Co Syrah
Meet Wincs clean line of vinos that launched in 2020, the Wonderful Wine Co. More importantly though, meet their full-bodied Spanish red thats begging for a spot at your dinner table. Made from sustainably farmed organic grapes, it has bold flavors of plum, fig and black cherry and pairs beautifully with barbecue or lamb. Its available as part of The Out of Your Gourd Pack, which also includes the brands 2020 Tempranillo and Malvasia Bianca.
Frey Organic Natural White
This white table wine from Frey Vineyards in California is made with a blend of Butte County Chenin Blanc and Mendocino Chardonnay grapes, resulting in a medium-bodied, acidic sipper for the books. Crisp, soft and dry, this wine allows you to savor notes of melon and pear between bites of chicken or shrimp.
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Are French Wines Lower In Sulfites
French red wines contain an average of 60 mg/L of sulfur dioxide, while French white wines carry around 90 mg/L. However, some French wines carry the possibility of containing low amounts of sulfite. Individuals who craft wine in France always attempt to use minimal amounts of added sulfites in the preservation process.
This is due to their location. Many regions of France tend to see more sun and heat, which ultimately assists in the development of antioxidants in the outermost layer of the grapes. This will assist in a more natural preservation of the wine, where added sulfites arent entirely necessary.
Alexander Jules Amontillado 3/10
Alex Russan has been releasing his Alexander Jules line of barrel-selected sherry since 2012. As he himself points out, Due to sherrys unique aging processes, very little is actually necessary to ensure their stability. Therefore, he never adds sulfur to any of his releases, which undergo only the most minimal filtration. The Amontillado 3/10 has an average age of 18 years, and it delivers a combination of saline tang and richer, though still gentle caramelized notes .
For more information about low-sulfite wines, come visit us at Paul Marcus Wines. Well be happy to help you find a bottle to your liking.
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Do Wine Sulfites Cause Headaches
There is actually no proven connection between sulfites and headaches. Wondering why your head is pounding after a glass? Its likely something else is the culprit. Tannins, histamines, and sugar have been known to cause wine headaches. Its a process of elimination, but well worth it to ensure you can enjoy your favorite beverage headache-free.
How Much Sulfur Dioxide Does Wine Have
Sulfite levels are measured in “ppm,” or parts per million. In the United States, conventional wines can have up to 350ppm of sulfites. By contrast, organic wines max out sulfite levels at just 10ppm, and they must be naturally occurring. Per the USDA, winemakers must add the phrase “contains sulfites” on wine labels when there is more than 10ppm.
If you see a wine promoted as “sulfite-free,” be aware that it only means there are no added sulfites. The closest you’re going to get to wine without sulfites is an organic wine that does not have the “contains sulfites” label.
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Low Sulfite Wines Vs Natural Wines
We shall start by clarifying that all wines are natural by definition. They are the product of the fermentation of the most due to the combination of yeast, bacteria and sugar. Natural wines are generally not filtered to remove these microorganisms, so these wines are literally alive with microbial life. There are no “synthetic” wines. So, what are we referring to, when talking about the natural wine trend? There is not a standard definition or organization that defines and controls what a natural wine is. But it is generally understood that the so-called natural wines have had a minimal intervention of the winemaker, with minimal processing, with practices respectful with the earth, avoiding chemical product usage, taking into account sustainability. Frequently, the taste and mouth feel of natural wines is described as lively or slightly prickly on the tongue
One Last Thing: What About Hangovers
Youll often hear that natural wine causes fewer hangovers. A lot of people think this is true, that the sulfites in conventional wine can exacerbate wines morning-after effects. A lot of people think its bullshit.
I think not drinking water hangovers, Scruggs says. I dont think its related to sulfur because its a naturally occurring byproduct already. Yes, there are producers pushing an extreme amount of it but usually its bulk wine and its the additives that dont have to be listed. So drink responsibly, and dont be an idiot.
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The Connection Between Sulfites And Headaches
It’s worth noting that sulfites abound in many other food sources beyond wine. Dried foods, jams, and canned or pre-cut vegetables often have sulfites added to prevent them from oxidizing and turning brown over time on the shelf. Dried fruits tend to carry considerably more sulfites than a standard bottle of vino. The debate between sulfites and their correlation with wine headaches continues, with many industry folks pointing to histamines, tannins, and of course alcohol as the real culprit. Either way, if someone does experience an association personally, it might be worth checking out organic options to see if that changes the outcome.
So Why Do I Get A Headache When I Drink Red Wine
All of these scientific facts, however, do nothing more than say that sulfites are probably not the culprit for the well-known phenomenon of red wine headaches. Other possible reasons include, as I mentioned above, histamines, the alcohol content itself, and tannins. The latest evidence points to the latter:
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Why Sulfites Are Often Necessary In Wine
There are really very few wines that are made without some use of SO2. This is because wine is perishable, prone to oxidation and the development of aldehyde off-odors. SO2, particularly for white wines, is important for freshness. Wines without any SO2 generally have a shorter shelf life about six months, and need to be kept in perfect storage conditions. Given that a winemaker has very little control over the wines storage conditions from the time the wine leaves the winery until it is consumed, it is little wonder that SO2 is so widely used to help guarantee that the bottle of wine you open will be fresh and clean, and taste as the winemaker intended.
Additionally, one of the reasons that you see more wines labeled made from organically grown grapes than labeled organic wine is because in the US organic wine must not have any added SO2.
Sulfites In Wine: Red Wine Vs White Wine
While all wine contains some level of sulfites, the prevailing myth has been that red wine has more sulfites than white wine. But the science doesn’t hold. Sulfite levels depend on how the wine is made and how much sugar it has.
When producing red wine, the juice has contact with the grape skins and seeds. This results in a higher amount of tannins, which act as a natural antioxidant that protects the wine from bacteria. As such, less sulfur dioxide is required.
Still, there are always exceptions to the rule and not all white wines are high in sugar dry brut and high-tannin white wines like Chardonnay are two such examples. When it comes to sulfites, it’s not simply a matter of red vs. white.
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Its Time To Enjoy A Sulfite
While it would be inaccurate to say you can find wine with absolutely no sulfites, you can still find wine with low sulfite levels that are naturally occurring not chemically created.
Sulfites have been long used to preserve wine’s freshness and enhance its color and taste, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But with so many commercial wines using dozens of other undisclosed ingredients , it’s no wonder a bottle of wine can open up a Pandora’s box of health issues. To reduce your risk of any potential side effects, be sure to research your wine and look for “no added sulfites” on the label.
Fortunately, whether you’re a wine lover whose tastes lean toward red, white, or rosé, there are a number of low-sulfite wines you can enjoy. To get started, pick a mixed pack of Usual Wines, which has plenty of the good stuff and none of the bad stuff. Because when it comes to sulfites in wine, less is more.
Are Sulfites In Wine Bad For You
It is important to highlight that sulfites have been used in foods and beverages for over 2000 years and are generally considered very safe when consumed in small amounts. But for some people, sulfur containing compounds, such as sulfites and sulpha drugs, can cause severe allergic reactions and even cause death. This is why it is compulsory to add Contains Sulfites on the label of all wine bottles that have sulfite levels higher than 10 ppm..However, more typically for people who have milder sensitivities to sulfites, the side effects experienced are usually headache, nasal congestion, sneezing and skin rashes. The intensity of these reactions is often more severe for wines containing high levels of sulfites such as sweet white wines and champagnes.
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Choosing Low Sulfite Wine
If you prefer to err on the side of caution, you could opt for low sulfite wines.
A great low sulfite wine option is red wine. Because red wine has more tannins than white wine, it naturally has more antioxidants present. These antioxidants help to preserve the wine, keeping the wine tasty, bright in color, and bacteria-free, with minimal intervention from the winemakers.
While winemakers may still choose to add sulfites to red wine because of their natural hardiness against bacteria. So in the battle of red wine vs. white wine, a nice bottle of Tempranillo or Syrah should be lower in sulfites than a Pinot Grigio.
However, if you cant face even the best red wine, dont worry. There are high tannin white wines on the market. Chardonnay has a higher level of tannins than your average white wine due to the way it’s matured in oak barrels.
Its also a good option to check your wine bottles wherever possible. Because the FDA insists bottles must be labeled if sulfites surpass the recommended 10 ppm, if your bottle is free from warning, its safe to assume it’s a low sulfite wine.
Avoiding Sulfites Some Thoughts On Sulfur
All that said, we are beginning to see a number of natural wines on the market, where little or no SO2 is added. This is a great development for the small part of the population that has an allergy to sulfites, and the biodynamic wine movement is also fascinating and positive for reasons that go far beyond the exclusion of sulfites.
As indicated earlier, leaving out sulfites is easier with red wines, because the tannin acts as a natural antioxidant. It also helps if natural wines are sold locally and not shipped. This local aspect of natural wines is part of what makes them so interesting theyre often best discovered close to their place of origin.
Sulfur-Free Wines to Try
Some sulfur-free wines to look for include:
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No Sulfites Added Wine
No sulfites added is a term sometimes used to mean no additional sulfur has been added during the winemaking process. The wine cannot be correctly described as sulfite free because there are tiny amounts of bound sulfites in there from the fermentation process. However, for all intents and purposes it is free of any harmful sulfites and safe for sulfite intolerant people to drink.
Sulphite Free Wines: Why Do Some Of Them Have Contains Sulphites On The Label
All wines contain naturally occurring sulphites, but the levels are very low up to 20 mg/l. By EU laws only the wines that contain less than 10 mg/l do not need to include that on the label. We have referenced all wines and the ones that are listed as sulphite-free or no sulphite added have less than 20 mg/l of sulphites. Medical science from around the world has repeatedly shown that people who suffer from intolerances only start noticing it when the concentration exceeds 45 mg/l only.
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Are Sulfites In Wine Bad
Not for most people. Sulfites arent the cause of . There are, however, some notable exceptions to this rule:
If you have asthma, there is about a 5-10% chance you have sulfite sensitivity. The United States requires labeling for sulfites in wine above 10 parts per million .
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Overall, sulfur is prevalent in processed foods and thus, is on the rise as a concern for health problems .
Wine Without Sulfites Explained
Whether youre new to the world of wine or a long-time wine connoisseur, odds are youve heard the word sulfites when reading about or discussing wine. Sulfites are sort of the bad boys of winemaking because all too often, they are what most people blame for their headaches, hangovers, and even hives after consuming too many glasses of their favorite fermented beverage.
But what are sulfites, why are they added to wine to begin with, and is there wine without sulfites? In this guide from wineUdesign, you will learn everything youve ever wanted to know about sulfites and wine.
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