Sulfites-the Mystery Ingredient in so Many Wines we Love!

Something I am frequently asked about are sulfites.  What are they, are they bad for you and are they what give me a headache when I drink wine?  Sulfites are simply a preservative, used in most food industries, including the wine industry.  Sulfites, or sulfur dioxide will usually cause you no harm unless you suffer from severe asthma, or do not possess the enzymes to break them down.  Sulfites are actually a natural byproduct of yeast metabolism during fermentation of wine and all wines naturally possess some amount of sulfites.  There is no medical research that correlates a connection between sulfites and the occurrence of a headache after drinking wine.  Headaches are usually associated with histamines, tannins or the alcohol present in wine.  Sulfites are necessary in wine because, without sulfites, wines are subject to oxidation, spoilage and aldehyde off-odors.  Wines without sulfites usually have a life of around six to eight months and need perfect storing conditions.  With sulfites, a winemaker can guarantee a fresh bottle of wine, clean of faults and tasting the way they had intended.  So, next time you see “Contains Sulfites” on the back of a bottle-never fear!  The winemaker just wants to insure that you receive your wine in perfect condition, just the way they intended it to taste.

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