“Contains Sulfites”

We’ve all seen it on the back label of a bottle of wine…


…but what does it mean?

Sulfites are a preservative.  They are found in dried fruit & are commonly used in salad bars.  They are added to wine to preserve the wine & prevent it from spoiling.

Some people are allergic to sulfites.  Others believe that the sulfites in wine are what cause them to get headaches from wine.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were no sulfites in wine?  And what of organic wines – isn’t that sulfite free??

Well, ALL wine has sulfites.  Sulfites are naturally occurring on the grape skins.  Since red wine gets its color from the skins red wines have more naturally occurring sulfites than white wines.  But white wines generally have more sulfites added than red wines.  So there is no and will never be any sulfite free wine (as far as I understand) – or at least none that will last more than a few days (hours?).

As to organic wine, it not only has the naturally occurring sulfites, but almost all has added sulfites – otherwise the wine would spoil relatively quickly.  BUT…and here is the difference, organic wine, to maintain their organic classification, can only add a specific (small) amount of sulfites.  YES, it is still there, BUT it is also added in smaller amounts.

SO, now that we have cleared that up I want to tell you about a real cool technology I just read about on decanter.com.  The technology, called SurePure, uses light to purify wine REDUCING (but not eliminating) the need for sulfites.  Something about the technology “deactivates microbes” (whatever that means)  reducing the likelihood of spoilage.   Apparently it is already used in the juice, dairy & beverage industries.  And now it has been approved for use in South Africa.

No idea whether this technology will work for wine, how far its use will spread or whether it will enable those who suffer from red wine headaches to drink wine worry free.  But it does sound like an exciting development…

Happy light purified wine tasting!


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