WINE 101: Sulfites

Check out any commercially-produced bottle of wine, and it will say “Contains sulfites.” Water 2 Wine wines are all low in sulfites, but what, exactly, are they?

Wikipedia defines sulfites as, “compounds that contain the sulfite ion [SO3]” and notes that sulfites “naturally occur in some foods and the human body. They are also used as regulated food additives.”

Wine 101: Sulfites, What are they and why do we use them?Sulfites are also used to control wild yeasts and bacteria that could cause spoilage or alter the flavor of wine. Organic wines are made without the addition of sulfites, though there are natural sulfites from the fermentation process present.

Water 2 Wine uses a very small amount of sulfites in the form of Potassium Metabisulfite. A small amount is used in the sanitation of our production equipment. Though the liquid is drained off, a residual amount of sulfites could remain in the finished product. We also use an additional small amount to stabilize the wine before bottling.

With these small additions of sulfites used in production, Water 2 Wine wines contain approximately 20 parts per million (ppm). In the US, any wines with a sulfite content of more than 10 ppm must be labeled. Commercial wines can contain up to 350 ppm, though most fall between 100 and 200ppm.

Side effects of consuming sulfites can be serious, but fortunately, are very rare, with less than 1% of the population experiencing allergic symptoms. Typical reactions include sneezing, hives, swelling of the throat, and blotchy skin. People with asthma are at an elevated risk for reaction, including difficulty breathing.

In the general population, sulfites are typically NOT the cause of headache, “wine flush,” or any other effect thought to be attributed to wine, especially red wine. As it turns out, even commercially-produced wine is low in sulfites compared to processed foods like potato chips, dried fruit, soda, and even jams and jellies.

So, should you be worried about sulfites in your wine? The short answer is no, though we believe that the fewer additives your wine contains, the better.

Find out what really causes the headaches associated with red wines.

More in the WINE 101 Series:
Red Wine Headache
Cures for RWH

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