Is my wine safe to drink?

In this series by VinoVoss we will dive into the role of the wine additives. Wine additives are used during the winemaking process to help preserve or improve its quality. While there is a big list of permitted wine additives, only a few are used for each wine.

What are Sulfites?

Sulfites (Sulfur Dioxide) are arguably the most common - and useful - winemaking additive, yet the one that has been demonised the most. Some companies are benefiting from this, selling products like wine purifiers, to scared wine lovers. Our goal is to educate you, VinoVosser, about the truth concerning sulfites.

Sulfites work are an excellent preservative, not only for wine, but also for a wide range of foods, as they are both an effective antioxidant and antibacterial agent. This is a unique characteristic. For winemakers, replacing sulfites would require adding multiple additives to achieve similar results

Sulfites are just the oxide of sulphur (Photo by Jonathan Chan on Unsplash)

Are Sulfites Bad?

The main concern with sulfites is that it is an allergen for some people. As a result, the addition of sulphites is highly regulated. Wines containing added sulfites must state it on the label. Interestingly, fermentation yeasts also produce sulfites, so they can be present in wine in small concentrations even if a winemaker did not add them.

Sulfites, like all winemaking additives, have an application limit. This ensures the wine is sufficiently protected, but prevents careless winemakers from overdoing it just to be safe. In reality, winemakers try to add only the necessary amount of sulfites in the wine, which is usually much lower than the limit.

Wines Without Added Sulfites

While there is an increasing trend towards wines without added sulfites, and winemakers trying to use less and less sulfites. This is a stylistic and ideological approach. Some winemakers believe that adding sulfites reduces the aromatic expression of their wines.

On the contrary, I find that many (yet not all!) wines where less sulfites have been used can have unpleasant aromas, which could have easily been prevented had sulfites been used! But that’s just me.


Evmorfia Kostaki

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