There are many misconceptions about sulfites found in wine. However, they are present naturally in wine, and are essential for its good hold and conservation. So why are the sulfites debate? Why does wine contain it? Little overview of the importance of sulfites in wine.
Does wine contain sulfites naturally?
The Wine manufacturing inevitably goes through a stage of alcoholic fermentation. This process, under the action of yeasts, will transform the sugar from the grape into alcohol, but also produce what is commonly called sulfur. It's a natural chemical reaction unavoidable. Thus, the presence of sulfites in wine, a chemical compound of the sulfur family is the result of a natural process, even if they are present in very small quantities.
If we generally talk about sulfites or sulfur, it is also possible to designate this compound by other terms, such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), sodium sulfite, sodium bisulfite, or even sulfitation agents.
What does "sulfite without wine" mean?
We have just seen that the wine naturally contains sulfites, even in very small quantities. So what is a wine called "sulfites"? We are talking about a wine here that has not been added to sulfites.
To find a Wine without sulfites added, it is then advisable to orient yourself towards a natural wine, which comes from a particular wine production. At first, no phytosanitary product is used on the vineyards. In this way, sulfur is not present in the grapes harvested. Then, the vinification steps are not added to any product. The sulfites thus present in natural wines come only from the natural process of alcoholic fermentation.
A plain wine Contains an average of 30 mg per liter of sulfites, against 100 to 200 mg per liter for other wines, whether red wine, white wine, or rosé wine. The rate can even go up to 400 mg/L for sweet white wines. France has imposed legal limits of sulfur of wine, which also varies according to the sugar content of the wine. The maximum limits of sulfites in wine are thus between 150 and 250 mg/l (400 mg/l for special wines). Furthermore, the mention " contains sulfites "Must be affixed to the wine label if the sulfites rate exceeds 10 mg per liter.
Why add sulfites to wine?
L'Adding sulfites to wine The aim of countering the harmful effects of oxygen on wine. Indeed, naturally present in wine, the oxygen of the air gradually transforms it into "vinegar", making it unfit for consumption. Sulfites then have 2 very interesting properties to fight against this phenomenon:
- Antioxidant : by limiting the process ofWine oxidation, sulfur brings more resistance to wine;
- Antiseptic : sulfites also fight against yeasts and bacteria present in wine, and thus make it possible to maintain a balance of the microbial flora of wine, conducive to better conservation.
The sulfites in wine therefore act as protection against all possible alterations of wine.
Are sulfites dangerous for health?
If sulfites are so debate, it is especially for the reactions that they can produce on human beings after consumption. Indeed, if sulfites remain harmless to health, it is not uncommon to develop a allergy to sulfites. It is then possible to have flows of the nose, hives, or abdominal pain. The consumption of sulfites is then prohibited.
But the rumor that is most often heard about sulfites is their propensity to head. However, nothing scientifically proves that sulfites are responsible for headache. Here we must realize that it is rather the excessive consumption of alcohol that causes headache. However, the wines that contain the most sulfites are also those that contain the most alcohol.
Many producers add sulfites to their wine, in order to protect them from possible oxidation and alterations. The legislation is firm on this use, and nothing proves to date that sulfites can be dangerous for health. In doubt, there are more and more very good wines without sulfites added, especially in organic wines.