Sulfites in Wine: What They Are (and why they're worry-free)

Like all food and drink on the market, good wines contain a list of often unknown ingredients. And sulfites in wine have caused quite a stir, with many worried about whether they’re safe for human consumption.

 In this blog, we’ve explored exactly what wine sulfites are and why you shouldn’t worry about them.

What Are Sulfites?

 Sulfites are a natural chemical produced as a byproduct during the winemaking process. They’re known to prevent oxidation of wines, which can affect their colour and taste, and act as a natural preservative, keeping your tipple fresh. Without sulfites, wine wouldn’t get better with ages – it would turn sour before being enjoyed. For this reason, many experienced winemakers actually add in extra sulfites during the production process.

Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Wine Sulfites

Sulfites Are Everywhere

 The sheer mention of sulfites in wine would cause many to turn up their noses. Just the thought of consuming something so foreign can be scary. Are sulfites bad for you? Can they harm your body? What are the side effects?

 The reality is, most of us consume sulfites every day, as they’re cleverly hidden in many of our favourite foods, including:

  • Beer and cider
  • Dried fruits
  • Pickled foods
  • Condiments

 And the above list doesn’t even include the foods that naturally contain sulfites, like tomatoes, salmon, onion, and eggs.

Surprisingly, some of these commonly consumed foods have much higher levels of sulfite than wine. For example, dried fruits such as raisins, dates, and apricots contain up to 3500 PPM (parts per million), whereas a standard bottle of wine only has around 80 PPM. To put it simply, you’re consuming more sulfites in your healthy snacks than in your vino. So, if you regularly consume foods with added or naturally occurring sulfites, you can assume it’s perfectly safe for you to indulge in a glass of wine over dinner.

 FACT: Red wines contain significantly fewer sulfites than any other wine. This is because the grapes already have natural preservatives, known as tannins.

Sulfite Allergies Are Rare

 Typically, the most common reaction to the consumption of sulfites is no reaction at all. But, with any food or drink, there’s always a possibility that you may develop an intolerance. Wine sulfites are no different, and can trigger reactions that range from mild to severe. However, sulfite sensitivity affects a mere 1% of the world’s population, meaning the majority of people can freely indulge in their favourite tipple without worrying about side effects!

Can Wine Sulfites Give You a Hangover?

 

Despite the rumourous chatter amongst wine fanatics, sulfites in wine are not actually responsible for your throbbing headache. While we would love to point the blame at something else, your sore head is more likely the result of too much alcohol. So there’s no need to skip the wine thinking that its sulfites will give you a heavy hangover – though we do recommend enjoying it in moderation!

 

Unless you have a sulfite sensitivity, sulfites in wine are really nothing to stress about. They’re simply a necessary ingredient to enhance the shelf life of your favourite beverage. So, you can enjoy all the Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay that you like!

 

At Azureau, we’ve stocked the finest wines from the world’s wineries since 2008. From the vineyards of Europe to the tastes of the new world, we’re sure you can find something to match your taste. Head to our online shop to discover the full range.

Dan

Dan

Dan started Azureau in 2008 and works closely with LCBO retail partners, key restaurant accounts, and Azureau’s portfolio of suppliers across the globe. In addition to a wine and spirits enthusiast, Dan is a father to 5 and a Bernedoodle named Riley!

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