Through the wine classes at The Wine Flat, sulphites is a hot topic. Guests usually ask
“ is it true that now all wines have sulphites?”Yes it is true.
Wines produced within the European Union that have more than 10 milligrams of sulphites per litre must carry this information on the label even though wines have always had sulphites in them.But what are sulphites and why are they in the wines we drink?
First of all, it is important to mention that there is a small production of sulphites during the fermentation process due to the existent yeast. But these are not the sulphites we usually refer to. We refer to the sulphites added by man.
Sulphites, in their varied forms, are the most used product in wine production. Sulphites act as an antioxidant in the wine but they also have disinfectant and fungicide functions, not to mention the solvent function that improves both the flavour and colour of the wine. They can also be used in the vineyards as a key ally in the fight against vine fungi diseases.
Used since ancient times, they are the best allies in wine manufacture and production. In the fifteenth century, in Germany, a decree was drafted to regulate sulphite usage in barrel disinfection before receiving wine. The Germans, in fact were the ones who introduced this practice in France that was widely spread in the eighteenth century.
It turns out that a considerable number of the population is sensitive or even allergic to sulphites and, for that reason, these people should be careful with the type of wine they drink, especially if they are asthmatic.
The most common symptom is the next day headache, usually from the white wine, even if it was a moderate consumption. But attention! Most food products contain sulphites, for example nuts and snacks bags. They have about ten times more sulphites than wine!
Then what to drink when a person is allergic to sulphites? Organic wines!
Many of them have zero sulphites, such as some of the Natural wines.
But attention, both of this wines can have sulphites. You should always read the label to check this. If they have sulphites, that would be in a very lower quantity.
Other option are any red wines (until 160mg/litre), since they have less sulphites than the white ones (260mg/litre). Stay away from the sweeter whites like Late Harvest because they usually have higher concentrations of sulphites that can go up to 400mg/litre.
Organic and Natural wines are beginning to thrive and there is plenty of room for them to get our attention. On the matter, I recommend a great price/quality ratio wine, ensuring headache absence for those more sensitive to sulphites. Happy drinking!
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