Low sulphite wine: let’s make it clear
Dealing on a daily basis with many customers and consumers, we sometimes notice there is a bit of confusion when it comes to low sulphite wine and its characteristics.
Although I do not suffer from any kind of allergy myself, during my career and studies I have always been very much interested in organic and natural wines, where the use of additives/preservatives (and then sulphur dioxide) is kept to a very minimum level.
What is a low sulphite wine then?
SO2 is added during the winemaking process to act as a preservative and anti-bacterial.
However, sulphites are also a natural by-product of alcoholic fermentation; therefore, even though many big brands may market things differently, it is NOT POSSIBLE to have a 100% sulphite-free wine.
What you can find are no-added sulphite wines that, thanks to the particular natural conditions during the fermentation (strain of yeasts, temperature, etc…) present incredibly low levels of final SO2 in the bottle… this is why they should just be called “low sulphite wine” and not “sulphite free wine” like many people (and professionals) still tend to do.
To make things clearer, currently in the EU the law states that wine producers must put on the label the words “contains sulphites” if the wine has more than 10 mg/l of total SO2, which is considered the starting point from which allergies may start to generate issues.
The EU law does not make producers to also declare the total amount of SO2 in that particular wine. For this reason, it is almost impossible for wine consumers to easily recognise a “150 mg/l” conventional red wine, a “100 mg/l” organic red wine, and a “50 mg/l” natural wine. (For more information check the Soil Association standards regarding sulphites in wine)
By the way, “dried fruit can contain extremely high amounts of sulphites […] 2,000 ppm in the UK […] Figures from actual analyses are hard to come by, but government and industry reports say that levels can be close to or over the limit. Analyses by a year 12 chemistry student at a Brisbane High School of dried apricots, peaches and pears found an average sulphite level of 2885 mg/kg. That means an average 200 gm packet of dried fruit would contain 577 mg of sulphur dioxide, or 144 mg per 50g serve” (Food Intollerance Network, 2007).
In the past months, we started a beautiful collaboration with 4 fantastic artisan wine producers that, thanks to their very natural approach, are able to get extremely low levels of sulphites in their wines (between 18 mg/l and 8 mg/l), and that do not use anything but grapes during the vinification.
Podere Pradarolo, Vej Bianco Antico (Total SO2: 10 mg/l)
Podere Pradarolo, Vej Bianco Antico Metodo Brut Classico (Total SO2: 15 mg/l)
Fattoria La Maliosa, Maliosa Rosso (Total SO2: 8 mg/l)
Podere Pradarolo, Velius Rosso Asciutto (Total SO2: 13 mg/l)
Casé, Pinot Nero (Total SO2: 18 mg/l)
It must be underlined the fact that the Maliosa Rosso has less than 10 mg/l of total SO2, something actually very rare to be found on the wine market these days.
Check out also our low sulphite wine portfolio, with more than 70 wines below the Soil Association organic standards for wine!
Everything should be a bit clearer now… or at least I hope? ;-)
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