Sulphites in wine, should we worry or not?


sulphites in alcohol

What about Sulphites in Wine?

Author: Jack Grey

The next time you go to open a bottle of wine, take a good look at the label. On this you can find a lot of information, including a mention of contains sulphites. You might be a little unfamiliar with this topic, so I hope to provide some clarity in this blog entry. We have a few points to look over: firstly, where sulphites in wine come from and why they are used, then some health concerns that can come up, and finally the different levels of sulphites in different types of wine. So, let’s dive right in!

Where are sulphites from and why are they used?

I would like to start with the fundamentals, so we need to look into two basic questions. Firstly, where do sulphites in alcohol come from, and secondly why are they used at all?

Quite simply, sulphites can come about naturally in the wine due to fermentation, and they can be added on purpose. They are used as they help to preserve the wine and to defend it against problems including oxidation and bacteria. These are good reasons for using sulphites in wine, but there can be some problems for consumers.

Sulphites & health Concerns

At the top of everyone’s list is their health. This section will briefly focus on a couple of the central issues.

  • The main problem with sulphites is that some people can have allergic reactions to them. It is important to know, that this is more prevalent with asthma sufferers. If you are at all concerned, the best advice it is to speak to your doctor.
  • Secondary to this, there are various viewpoints suggesting that sulphites in alcohol are the cause of headaches, but it is not clear that this is the case.
Sulphites in Food

When thinking on the topic of health and sulphites, one must not be too hard solely on wine. If you do a little research, you will find that foods such as dried fruits and nuts contain sulphites even in higher levels than wine. This is not to say that sulphites in wine can’t cause problems, but rather, that not all sulphite concerns should be focused purely on wines. Again, if you are at all worried, it is best to consult with your doctor.

Varying Levels of Sulphites

Should you wish to reduce your sulphite consumption, then you can opt to drink different wines. I suggest this because some types of wine need different amounts of sulphites. For example, sweet wines tend to have high sulphite levels, while on the other hand red wines, require less than white options.

There are also wines that contain far lower levels in general, and this is usually the case of medium-sized or small wine producers, particularly if they don't need to ship their wines to other countries. This is because very often, sulphites are added to the wine to prevent it from oxidation during bulk transportation. That's why buying wine from your local producer could be a very reasonable way to reduce the chances of getting headaches from sulphites in wine!

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So the next time you are in a wine shop you can ask the staff about these. Another way to reduce your intake would be to avoid sulphite-heavy foods like nuts and dried fruit in general.

Sulphite Summary

I hope that this entry has been helpful. You can now see where sulphites in wine are from and why they are used, know a little more about the health concerns associated with them, and find ways to reduce your sulphite consumption if you wish. Do not forget, that any health concerns must be directed to your doctor.


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