Curiosities & Insights – Wine’s sulphites

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Scritto da PoggioalBosco

August 30, 2019

We often hear about wine’s sulphites, but not everyone has a clear idea about it.

What are sulphites?

In chemical, sulphite is the generic name for the neutral salts of sulfur acid. The most well-known ones are the sulphites of sodium and calcium, used in the food industry as antioxidant additives.
Two reasons justify their use: the first is to prevent the oxygenation of some enzymes internal to food which in contact with oxygen could modify the organoleptic characteristics of a product and its original taste; the second is to defend them from the attack of bacteria that could deteriorate them. Sulphites are not only used in wine, but also in any other beverage or food (such as fruit juices or jams).

Wine’s sulphites

When we talk about sulphites in wine, we are talking about sulphur dioxide added as potassium metabisulphite. With its important antioxidant, preservative and antiseptic actions, they are often indispensable for the health and stability of wine and nowadays it seems to have no rivals who could overcome it. Sulphur is added at every stage of the wine production, from the harvest to the bottle: a part of this gas is combined with some components of the must and wine, while the other one remains free and it carries out those important antioxidant and antiseptic effects. Whenever wine comes into contact with oxygen (decanting, filtration and bottling), it is considered good practice to add a quantity of sulphur dioxide to combat any undesirable effects.

Are sulphites dangerous for man?

Sulphites are included among the allergens, but actually a reaction to them is not an allergy. Some people may have positive reactions to skin allergy tests and they may symptoms as dyspnoea, sneezing and coughing within 30 to 40 minutes of ingestion. For people whom do not suffer from any allergy type, sulphites do not have any particular undesired effects, but they can cause headaches and stomach ache if they are taken in a really big quantity. However an upper limit has been set because in large quantities they are toxic to humans.

What is the maximum permitted use limit for wine? 

This limit is not generally valid but it depends on the country of production and on the type of wine: in Italy the limit established by law is approximately 160 mg/l for red wines, 220 for white and rosé wines and 250 for sweet wines (400 for passitior muffatiwines). Instead the organic regulation provides much lower numbers, such as 60 mg/l for red wines, 80 for white and rosé wines and 120 for sweet wines. If the total quantity of sulphur dioxide exceeds 10 mg/l, it shall be indicated on the label with the words “contains sulphites”, but the actual quantity in the bottle does not need to be specified.

Do wines without sulphites exist?

The term “without sulphites” refers to wines that contain less than 10 mg/l of sulphites. Zero sulphite bottles can’t be found, because sulphites are also present in wines where no sulphur dioxide has been artificially added, because some yeasts present in the must develop a small quantity of them during fermentation naturally.

Poggio al Bosco philosophy

Starting by May 2015 Poggio al Bosco can expose the U.E. organic certification after an accreditation path lasted 3 years. The promotion of a genuine production and the respect for the times of the nature and the rhythms of the earth are the basis of the job of this winery, which has always worked in the perspective of those virtuous practices of wine production that want to provide high quality product. Among other targets inside this project, there is the one that wants to tear down the excessive use of sulphites to avoid unpleasant consequences for human health. For this reason in our wines you will find a really small quantity of them like one third of the maximum allowed limit for organic production.

All you have to do now is to taste our wines and test with your mouth the difference: guaranteed result from the first sip!

Virginia Bagni

P.s. Visit our shop to order our natural wines directly 🙂

ultima modifica: 2019-08-30T13:01:22+01:00 When we talk about wine's sulphites, we are talking about sulphur dioxide added as potassium metabisulphite. With its important antioxidant, preservative and antiseptic actions, they are often indispensable for the health and stability of wine. da Elena Boschini

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