29 Sep Sulphites, do we really need a device to rid them from our wines?
I have felt compelled to write this after listening to friends, family and media links directing me to the latest craze in prevention of the dreaded “Hangover”.
This craze in reducing our wine hangovers, involves purchasing a magical and whimsical device which claims to remove all sulphites from our wine. This in turn provides us with wonderfully clear heads the following morning and for those of us who suffer regularly from the dreaded “wine head” no more popping paracetamol and ibuprofen.
Unfortunately, I have yet to see statistically significant data to support the claims of these devices and that they do either of the following:
1. remove ALL levels of SO2 from the wine
2. prevent the hangover.
In winemaking SO2 is used for its antiseptic and antibacterial properties to ensure our wines retain their fresh fruit flavours whilst also preventing oxidation and unwanted bacterial involvement. The SO2 levels used are low, and developing a reaction to these levels are highly unlikely. There are situations however where some people have a genuine SO2 allergy, more commonly found in asthmatics.
Sulphur dioxide is literally everywhere. It is all around us, in the atmosphere, the soil, and even in the food we consume. When we look at the levels involved in winemaking, they are stringently controlled by law and need to fall below 150mg/L PPM (Parts per million) for Red wines and 200mg/L for dry whites and Rose wine. Sweeter wines have a limit of 300mg/L. Important to appreciate when compared with a bag of dried fruit, containing more SO2 levels than the upper limit permitted in winemaking.
Therefore the limited levels of sulphites in your wines are very unlikely to have any effect on you as your body will easily processes them. However should you wish to reduce your SO2 exposure further, source your wines from Biodynamic and organic wineries where they engage in very low SO2 usage levels and avoid drinking botrytised and late harvest wines which will be closer to the upper limit due to the natural sugar content.
Maybe you’ve tried a sulphur and aerating device and feel it’s worked for you? That’s great if it has. Alternatives to try also include using a decanter or simply swirling the wine in your glass. This will have a similar effect by allowing the wine maximum exposure to oxygen and releasing some of the unbound SO2 molecules.
Remember SO2 in wine is not always a bad thing .It ensures the wine retains it’s complex fruit and flavour structure for our consumption.
About the author: I’m Leah, Irish and live in the Newcastle-upon-Tyne. As well as wine, my other hobbies include Snowboarding, downhill mountain biking and travelling to as many destinations as possible . I have 2 small sleep thieves who keep me and my partner busy and a golden retriever who enjoys taking us for regular walks along our rugged coastline.I run a small company called Whispering Wine providing bespoke wine tasting events to the private and corporate client. I work with restaurants on food and wine matching and enjoy the opportunities this gives me .