Finding a good low-sulfite wine can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not familiar with the terminology and processes involved in winemaking. Sulfites are naturally occurring compounds found in grapes and other fruits, but they can also be added to wines during production as preservatives or to control fermentation.
While some sulfites are essential for making quality wines, too much of them can lead to adverse health effects such as headaches and asthma attacks. Fortunately, there are ways to identify low-sulfite wines so that you can enjoy great-tasting vintages without worrying about potential side effects.
In this article, we’ll discuss what sulfites are, why they’re used in winemaking, how to identify low-sulfite wines, and tips for selecting high-quality bottles. With this knowledge at hand, you’ll have no trouble finding great-tasting vintages with minimal amounts of sulfites!
1. What are Sulfites and Why Are They Used in Winemaking?
Sulfites, also known as sulfur dioxide, are a naturally occurring compound found in grapes and other fruits. During winemaking, sulfites can be added to the must or wine to control fermentation, prevent oxidation and extend shelf life. While small amounts of sulfites are essential for making quality wines, too much of them can lead to adverse health effects such as headaches and asthma attacks. Some producers add more sulfites than necessary which is why it’s important to know how to identify low-sulfite wines.
2. Identifying Low-Sulfite Wines
There are several ways you can determine the sulfite content of a wine. One is to look for the voluntary statement on wine labels which states that the bottle contains “contains less than 10 parts per million (ppm) sulfur dioxide.” This indicates that the bottle contains lower levels of sulfites than wines without this statement. Additionally, many organic and biodynamic producers use natural fermentation processes and avoid adding sulfites altogether.
3. Reading Labels to Determine Sulfite Content
It’s also important to read labels carefully when selecting wines as some producers may not include the “contains less than 10 ppm” statement on their bottles even if they are low in sulfates. As such, it’s important to check the list of ingredients for any added preservatives or sulfur-containing compounds such as potassium bicarbonate or sodium sulfite.
4. Tips for Selecting High-Quality Low-Sulfite Wines
When selecting low-sulfite wines, it’s important to choose bottles from reputable producers that use natural fermentation processes and avoid adding preservatives or too many sulfites. Additionally, look for wines with a vintage date on the label as these tend to have lower levels of sulfites than non-vintage labels. Finally, if you’re looking for an organic option, opt for biodynamic wines as they are made with stringent standards and contain no added preservatives or chemicals.
5. How to Store Low-Sulfite Wines Properly
As with all wine types, it’s important to store low-sulfite wines properly in order to preserve their quality and aromas. The best place to store wine is a cool, dark location that has consistent temperatures as this helps to ensure the wine ages properly. Additionally, avoid exposing bottles to direct sunlight or strong air currents which can cause oxidation and spoilage.
6. Health Benefits of Drinking Low-Sulfite Wine
In addition to being free from headache-inducing sulfites, low-sulfite wines also offer numerous health benefits. Studies have shown that moderate consumption of red wine can increase levels of good cholesterol (HDL), reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, and even protect against certain types of cancer when consumed in moderation. Furthermore, organic and biodynamic wines contain fewer chemicals and are free from artificial preservatives which may be beneficial for people with food allergies.
A Few Low-Sulfite Wines and Where to Find Them
Whether you’re looking to explore, stock your home cellar, or expand your knowledge of low-sulfite wines, there are plenty of places to find them. From tasting rooms and natural wine bars popping up in major cities all over the world to online retailers shipping straight to your door — these special bottles can be found if you know where to look. Here are a few we recommend:
- Gran Passione Bardolino DOC – A romantic Italian red made from Corvina grapes grown in Veneto’s Valpolicella region, this light-bodied but full-flavored blend is overflowing with notes of tart cherry, clove spice, cranberry compote, and orange zest. You’ll love how many layers of aromas and flavors reveal themselves with each sip.
- Domaine Pichot Vouvray – Another classic from the Loire Valley, this white wine is a perfect example of Chenin Blanc. Dry and vibrant, it’s full of tart Granny Smith apples, crunchy grapefruit, dried apricots, minerality, and hints of honeyed almond.
- Vignerons du Mont Ventoux ‘Autour du Soufre’ Rouge – This unique blend of syrah, grenache noir, and carignan grapes has notes of cherry cola, spiced cranberry compote, oregano flower petals, and black pepper — all framed by soft tannins. The freshness here is remarkable.
- Les Vignerons de Maury ‘ original’ – A classic fortified red from southern France, this is a great option if you’re looking for something a bit different. It’s made of 100% carignan grapes and has notes of fig jam, dried plums, raisins, orange peel, and walnut. Plus it packs a nice warming finish that’s perfect for wintertime sipping.
These are just some of the amazing low-sulfite wines out there waiting to be discovered. So don’t wait—to find your next favorite bottle today! Happy drinking!
Low-sulfite wines offer a deliciously safe alternative for those looking to avoid adverse reactions caused by high levels of sulfites. By reading labels, selecting quality bottles from reputable producers, and storing them properly, you can enjoy great-tasting vintages with minimal amounts of sulfites!
Is low-sulfite wine better for you?
While moderate consumption of red wine can offer some health benefits, there’s no evidence that low-sulfite wines are better for you than other types of wine. However, these special bottles may be a great option for those who experience adverse reactions to high levels of sulfites in other wines.
Where can I find low-sulfite wines?
You’ll find plenty of options at local tasting rooms and natural wine bars, or online stores specializing in organic, biodynamic, and chemical-free wines. Additionally, many conventional retailers carry bottles with minimal amounts of sulfites too — just read the label!
How should I store low-sulfite wines?
To get the most out of your bottles, it’s best to keep them in a cool, dark place away from direct light and away from excessive heat or cold. Additionally, you’ll want to store them on their side so that the cork stays moist. This will help prevent oxidation and ensure you’re enjoying your wines at their best!
How long can I keep a bottle of low-sulfite wine?
Like any other bottle of wine, how long you can store a low-sulfite variety depends on the particular vintage and how it’s been stored. If kept in optimum conditions, many will last for up to two years — though, as always, we recommend drinking sooner rather than later! Enjoy your bottles as soon as you get them for the freshest flavor and experience.
What's Your Reaction?
Hi there! I'm Jonas Muthoni, a wine enthusiast, entrepreneur and writer based in California. With over a decade of experience in the wine industry, I've developed a deep passion for all things related to wine, from the vineyard to the bottle. As a writer, I aim to share my knowledge and love for wine with others, making it approachable and accessible for everyone. Whether you're a seasoned wine connoisseur or just starting your journey, I hope to provide valuable insights and tips to help you enjoy and appreciate wine to its fullest. Cheers!