Sulfite free organic wine does not exist in nature. It’s physically impossible. But, organic wines low in sulfites or no-sulfites-added organic wines are becoming more popular in some circles. There is a movement in the organic wine making industry that wants to rid wine of added sulfites. Why? It’s a chemical preservative. But let’s look at what it actually does.
What are Sulfites?
Sulfites are typically added during winemaking to prevent bacterial growth and oxidation. In sulfite-free wine, no sulfites can be added to the wine during the winemaking process, although they are naturally produced in the fermentation process. So, there is technically no such thing as a sulfite-free organic wine.
These days non-organic winemakers have often overused them to mask odors from the wine or a poor quality crop of grapes. Sulfites have been linked to headaches, respiratory problems, rashes, and other allergic reactions. The sulfites that are added cause these allergic reactions, whereas the naturally occurring sulfites usually cause no side effects.
The biggest complaint about sulfites is the side effect of headaches. While added sulfites can cause headaches, naturally occurring tannins released from the skins of the grapes are more likely the cause of headaches. But people are unsure and no conclusive testing has been done to demonstrate the harmful side effects of sulfites. So for now, organic proponents will say that if it isn’t naturally occurring, it shouldn’t be added.
What about Organic Wine and Sulfites?
Organic wine has no added sulfites, but sulfites are a naturally occurring result of fermentation, coming from the skin of the grapes. So, organic wines must maintain a level of sulfites less than 100 parts per million (ppm), as opposed to the 350 ppm limit for non-organic wine makers.
If you are concerned with added sulfites, you should be aware that European wines have significantly more sulfites than American wines. Also, white wines need twice the sulfites red wines do.
Taste of Sulfite-Free Wines
Many people have complained over the years about the taste of wines with no added sulfites. This is what has prevented organic wines from flying off the shelves. But organic vineyards are doing better with this.
Although sulfite-free wines have a brown tint to them, organic wine lovers are touting the rich, true flavor of the wine when no sulfites are added. But, still others will swear that sulfite-free wine tastes like battery acid.
Since wine tasting is such a personal thing, only you can decide if you like the flavor of truly organic wine with no added sulfites. Many times the good organics never get to the wine shop shelves, but can be found at local restaurants and wineries. Since the nature of sulfite free wine is that it cannot sit for long periods of time without some spoilage, these untainted bouquets may never be for mass consumption.