Sunday, May 29, 2011

"SULFITES", Friend or Foe?

Very few subjects elicit as much consternation as "Sulfites" in wine. If ever there was a need to separate fact from fiction, this is it!
So, let's head into the Wine Cave and uncover the 'Real' truth.

Firstly, "ALL " wines naturally contain sulfites. Yep, even your organic wine. To keep the playing field somewhat level, the Feds (BATF, USDA & the FDA) have laid out the rules and regulations concerning sulfites in wine. According to the rules, if a wine contains less than 10 parts per million of sulfites, they don't have to tell you...and most won't! The upper limit on sulfites in wine is 350ppm. Organic wines can go as high as 100ppm, but most are half that.
So, what's the purpose of sulfites in wine? The simple answer is to keep the villains (bacteria & fungus) at bay. In order to protect our health, Sulfites have been added to wines for hundreds of years. It is NOT a new thing.
Is there an alternative to adding sulfites to wines? Sure, but you wouldn't like it. We could use "UHT" (ultra high temp). This would knockout the villains, but would, also...destroy the wines color, alcohol, taste, flavor and bouquet. Today, sulfites are still our best option.
When I drink a glass of wine, I get a headache. Am I allergic or sensitive to the sulfites in the wine?
That's a great question, but difficult to answer. I would need to know everything that you ate or drank in the last 12 hours, their sulfite levels and if you are asthmatic. Many common foods and drinks contain levels of sulfites far higher than wine. Some of these foods are cheeses, fruit drinks, baked goods and dried fruits and run as high as 5000 ~ 6000ppm. About 5% of asthmatics are allergic or sensitive to sulfites. Over 99% of everyone else...ARE NOT! Chances are, your headache is NOT caused by the sulfites in your glass of wine, but rather the other foods or drinks that you've consumed.
So, is "SULFITE" a Friend or a Foe?? When looking at the facts, it appears that sulfite is a pretty good friend. There will always be people that will try and frighten you and discourage you from enjoying your glass of wine. Made the right way (Unfiltered), wine is a fabulous adult drink that should be a vital part of our lives. So, the next time that someone disparages your wine because it contains some sulfites, just 'Smile' and offer them some more..."Cheese"! The less wine that they drink...the MORE there is for us!!

"Salute and Happy Days"

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