Signs of sulfite sensitivities include nasal congestion, headaches, skin flush, broncho-constriction, nausea, abdominal pain, and dizziness. What are sulfites, anyway? And, did you know that red wines contain the least sulfites? In wine, however, when we talk about sulfites, we’re generally referring to sulfur dioxide (SO 2) and the forms it takes in wine. 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. Or, eliminate wine (especially if you are doing an elimination diet). You can also find wine without sulfites, they have less than 10 mg/L of sulfites. The trend is producing natural wines, but we don’t know yet how long does the ageing takes. Because they have tannin, which helps to stabilize the wine, less sulfur dioxide is necessary. And, are they bad for me? Keeping in mind that all wines contain some naturally occurring sulfites, if you are looking for wines with the lowest level of sulfites, then organic wines are your best bet, because by label definition " Organic Wines" are produced from organically grown grapes without the addition of chemicals (including sulfur dioxide) during the winemaking process. However, other ingredients in wine, such as histamine and tannins CAN cause headache. 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 (SO2), 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. Although sulfur compounds are somewhat unrelated to sulfites, sensitive tasters have been noted to smell sulfur compounds in wine. If you experience headaches when drinking red wine, it’s often due to higher levels of tannins. What’s interesting is that the warmer the wine, the more molecular sulfur it releases. Added sulfites preserve freshness and protect wine from oxidation, and unwanted bacteria and yeasts. Not for most people. The process of using sulfites in wine has been around for as far back as ancient Rome. Wine contains significantly fewer sulfites compared to other products, such as dried fruit. Arizona Stronghold Vineyards Ambassador of Wine Education shed light on the topic Sulfur dioxide (SO 2) protects wine not only from oxidation, but also from bacteria. Wines with higher sugar content tend to need more sulfites to prevent secondary fermentation of the remaining sugar. Winemakers may also add it to preserve and protect the color, flavor, and character of the wine. Sulfite can be a natural byproduct that occurs during the fermentation process and fights yeast and bacteria. ​Sweet white dessert wines contain the most sulfur dioxide with blush wines and semi-sweet white wines coming in at a close second for sulfur dioxide content. 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. A well made dry red wine typically has about 50 mg/l sulfites. The purpose of using added sulfites is to help ensure that wine tastes the same once consumed as when bottled. So you might not want to bother with having to take the extra step, regardless of how easy it might be. Sulfites are commonly introduced to arrest fermentation at a desired time, and may also be added to wine as preservatives to prevent spoilage and oxidation at several stages of the winemaking. For this reason, ALL wines have sulfites. This past winter, I fell ill to these same symptoms while collecting barrel samples of wine for a secondary fermentation analysis. Even if no extra sulfites have been added, it’s important to remember that a natural part of the wine’s fermentation process produces some sulfites. Which Wines Have the Lowest Sulfite Levels, The Connection Between Sulfites and Headaches, Everything You Need to Know About Beaujolais Nouveau Wine, The 10 Best Natural Wines to Drink in 2020. Freelance writer and wine expert, author of ""Idiots Guides: Wine""; as well as several magazine and online articles. The maximum legal limit in the United States is 350 mg/l. If you don’t experience a headache after eating dried fruit, it’s unlikely sulfites in wine are causing your headache. Regardless of whether sulfites are truly harmful, removing sulfites from your wine is very easy. Overall, sulfur is prevalent in processed foods and thus, is on the rise as a concern for health problems (from migraines to body swelling). This label designation was intended to protect people that may be allergic to sulfites (an estimated 1% of the U.S. population), people with asthma are in the most susceptible category. Creating great tasting cocktails at home is easy once you have some recipes. Back in Roman times, winemakers would burn candles made of sulfur in empty wine containers (called Amphora) to keep the wines from turning to vinegar. Sulfites also inhibit the growth of mold and other bacteria. Red wines actually contain fewer sulfites than most white wines. Sulfite, or sulfur dioxide, is a natural compound produced during the fermentation process. Sulfites aren’t the cause of red wine headaches. While this amount could theoretically cause an adverse reaction in an asthmatic, it’s extremely rare: sulfite intolerance reportedly affects less than 1% of the … Sulfites are used in foods and beverages to limit bacterial contamination. Those little words “Contains Sulfites” on the bottom of a label often stir up concern. Sulfites in wine production have been used as a preservative and stabilizer for thousands of years, since the Romans first discovered that adding sulfites to their wine acted as a preservative. They also act as antioxidants in dried fruit and wine to prevent the product from turning to a brownish color. You can fix this issue by decanting your wine and chilling for about 15-30 minutes. Back in Roman times, winemakers would burn candles made of sulfur in empty wine containers (called Amphora) to … A typical dry white wine may have around 100 mg/L whereas a typical dry red wine will have around 50–75 mg/L. Sulfites in wine are chemical compounds (sulphur dioxide, or SO2) that occur naturally, to varying degree, in all types of wine. They keep harmful bacterial or fungal organisms from growing in food products. However, sulfites are also added by the winemaker to preserve and protect the wine from bacteria and yeast-laden invasions. The process of using sulfites in wine has been around for as far back as ancient Rome. Get this great Tee and pour yourself a glass of an Italian masterpiece. In chemistry, sulfites are chemical compounds that contain a sulfite ion—a sulfur atom surrounded by three oxygen atoms. Wine ranges from about 5 mg/L (5 parts per million) to about 200 mg/L. Compare that to a handful of dried fruit, which will have been dosed with anywhere from 500-3,000 PPM. Wine without sulfites. It safeguards […] Sulfites are compounds which contain sulfurous acid, which has preserving properties. Sulfites in wine typically take the blame for allergy symptoms like flushing, headaches and rashes during wine consumption. Sulfur started to be used in winemaking (instead of cleaning wine barrels) in the early 1900s to stop bacteria and other yeasts from growing. Ironically, because of the technology available to today's winemakers, the amount of sulfur dioxide needed to inhibit oxidation, prevent further fermentation and stabilize the wine is at an all-time low. What are sulfites in wine? Generally speaking, when we’re talking about sulfites, we are talking about the addition of SO2 (sulfur dioxide) to wine. Small enough to stash in your purse, the wands help reduce sulfites … Wine sulfites are naturally occurring at low levels in all wines, and are one of the thousands of chemical by-products created during the fermentation process. Sulfites are a food preservative widely used in winemaking, thanks to their ability to maintain the flavor and freshness of wine. Sulfites, otherwise known as sulfur dioxide or SO2, are common in the wine industry. Further, it also prevents the oxidation of wine. In the United States, the sulfites cap is 350 mg per liter. Sulfites occur during the winemaking process naturally, for example, but winemakers and food companies also add them to their products to ensure preservation. The amount of sulfites in wine typically ranges from 5 mg per liter to 200 mg per liter. Very simply, sulfites help preserve wine and slow chemical reactions, which cause a wine to go bad. Sulfur dioxide, a compound formed from sulfur and oxygen, exists naturally in wine as a result of the fermentation process. (Ever open a bottle of wine, and it’s bad by the next day?). Naturally occurring levels of sulfur dioxide in a glass of wine, without chemical additives, would weigh in at around 10-20 ppm. Dried fruits tend to carry considerably more sulfites than a standard bottle of vino. Most people think sulfites in wine are much higher in the US. Your wine smarts deserve to be on the next level. Very simply, sulfites help preserve wine and slow chemical reactions, which cause a wine to go bad. Either way, if someone does experience an association personally, it might be worth checking out organic options to see if that changes the outcome. In wine they prevent the wine from turning to vinegar. ). So what gives? For some, sulfur allergies may be associated with headaches and stuffy sinuses after a glass or two of wine. Get our free book when you sign up for our newsletter. Sometimes trace amounts can be found in products because of the indirect ways sulfites are used. It's worth noting that sulfites abound in many other food sources beyond wine. Winemakers add sulfur dioxide (sulfites), too. So the first very important thing to note is that all wine-even if it's labeled "sulfite-free" wine-naturally has sulfites (and all these wine health benefits ! In wine they’re used to prevent discoloration, bacterial growth, and fermentation. Winemakers use sulfur dioxide at various stages of the winemaking process because: It stabilizes the wine (preventing it from turning to vinegar or deteriorating from oxygen exposure). Does this mean sulfites in wine are harmful? This is why some wines have a nasty cooked-egg aroma when you open them. How much is there, and how do they affect you? Tannins are also in: • Tea leaves • Nuts with skin • Dark chocolate • Strawberries • Coffee • Pomegranates . Sulfur is used in winemaking to stop bacteria and other yeasts from growing, as well as helping to ensure stability by preventing micro- organisms and oxidation from spoiling wine. Current FDA regulations in the United States require that all wines, both domestic and imports, that contain 10+ ppm of sulfur dioxide state "Contains sulfites" on the label. Now, sulfites are the subject of a significant amount of criticism. Some wine makers and brewers in Australasia produce wines and beers that state that they do not add sulfites. There are also natural sulfites: they are produced by grape in the … They extend the shelf-life of many products and are widely used in agricultural ways. Most countries do not require labeling of trace … We hope this helps you understand a bit more about sulfites. A History of Inventions and Discoveries (1846), https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/FS/FS-52-W.pdf, https://waterhouse.ucdavis.edu/whats-in-wine/sulfites-in-wine, https://www.learningtarget.com/nosulfites/sensitive.htm, https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-risks-sulfur-dioxide-dried-fruits-3921.html, https://www.meatupdate.csiro.au/sulphur-dioxide.pdf. 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