Sulfite free wine has become very popular in recent years, as many wine drinkers find sulfites cause problems for them.
Unfortunately, there is also a lot of misinformation about sulfites and wine that contains no sulfites.
Worst of all, there are no wineries that make sulfite free wine. It is impossible to make wine without some sulfites mixed in.
Why are sulfites in wine?
Where do they come from?
…Are they really that bad for you?
Sulfites come from sulfur dioxide, a compound of sulfur and oxygen. It occurs naturally in wine. It is a by-product of fermentation and acts as a preservative.
Winemakers have been adding extra sulfur dioxide to wines since the time of the Romans. It kills bacteria, stops fermentation (especially for sweet wines) and thereby protects the flavor of the wine.
There is a chance that sulfur dioxide can create problems for people with asthma. It is estimated that about 5% of people with asthma are sensitive to sulfites. That is why the U.S. Government requires that all wines that contain sulfites above a certain level (above 10 parts per million) have “Contains Sulfites” on the label. However, winemaking has improved so much recently that vintners use very little sulfur dioxide, if any.
You can buy red wine that contains very little sulfites.
Some stores sell two or three wines that do not have the “Contains Sulfites” labeling. Frey, a California wine company, produces organic wines and does not add sulfites at any part of their wine making process.
Dry red wines also contain low levels of sulfites. Try a Cabernet Sauvignon, Australian Shiraz or Brunello di Montalcino.
Do sulfites cause red wine headaches?
red wine headaches may be the reason why you are looking into sulfite free wines. Research has found that sulfites are not the culprit of red wine headaches. Perhaps, like many others, you have switched from red wine to white wine.
White wine actually contains more sulfites than red wine does!
How to lessen sulfites in a wine
The best way to remove sulfites from a wine is by letting it air out. Swirl it around in your glass, or pour your wine into a decanter. Or, use a wine aerator. You may lose some of your wines flavor (depending on the age of the wine), but this way the sulfites in your wine will be released into the air.