August 16, 2014

Those little words "Contains Sulfites"!

I was in Costco a couple of weeks ago and an older gentleman was standing behind me in the checkout line.  He noticed two bottles of wine in my cart and he told me that he stopped drinking wine cold turkey because he said if I knew the additives in wine, I wouldn’t drink it.  He also added, he is a retired doctor. 
So, of course, I researched this information online.  The only thing I knew about wine was it did contain sulfites and not good for pregnanat women to drink it.  Ironically, my Primary Care doctor advised me to drink a glass of red wine every day as it is good for your heart.  Those exact words are what my own father told me when I was young. Well, here is what I found out:

Those little words “Contains Sulfites” on the bottom of a label often stir up concern. What’s even more confusing is that the US is one of the only countries (along with Australia) that require bottles be labeled. So what gives? How much sulfites are in wine and how do they affect you?

Time to get to the bottom of sulfites in wine and how they’re not as bad as you might think.
Sulfites are Not bad for most people. Sulfites aren’t the cause of red wine headaches which I have experienced now and then. There are some notable exceptions to this rule.

Depending on the production method, style and the color of the wine, sulfites in wine range from no-added sulphur (10-40 PPM) to about 350 PPM. If you compare wine to other foods, it’s placed far lower on the spectrum. For example, many dry red wines have around 50 PPM.

Sulfites are a preservative to wine, which is a volatile food product (ever open a wine and it’s bad by the next day?). Wineries have been using sulfur around wine for a long time, as far back as the Roman times. Back in Roman times, winemakers would burn candles made of sulfur in empty wine containers (called Amphora) to keep the wines from turning to vinegar. Sulfur started to be used in winemaking (instead of just cleaning wine barrels) in the early 1900′s to stop bacteria and other yeasts from growing. It also helps in the extraction of pigments in wine, making red wines "redder".

Very sensitive tasters have been noted to smell sulfites in wine at around 50 PPM. What’s interesting is that the warmer the wine, the more molecular sulfur it releases. This is why some wines have a nasty cooked-egg aroma when you open them. You can fix this issue by decanting your wine and chilling for about 15-30 minutes.  Chilling the red wine helps a lot even though I was always told to drink it at room temperature.  It actually made the red wine taste better.

Living in a hot climate like Florida and since most wines are made in cold cellars, it makes sense to chill red wine.  It takes a lot to time to transport wine to various states, so sitting in a hot truck for weeks at a time does not help either.  Then sitting on the shelves of stores that the room temperature is not exactly what it should be for wine is another culprit.  And we all know that stores like Costco do not have air conditioning like your Wine Stores!

If you have sensitivity to foods, you should absolutely try to eliminate sulfites from your diet. Eliminating wine could be necessary. Perhaps start your sulfur witch hunt with the obvious culprits (like processed foods) before you write-off wine!

My Father and my brother-in-law’s  homemade wine was the best!  Yes, it was strong but good.  No sulfites needed and was made in cold cellars!


  1. YOur dad producing his own wine seems very wise...
    I will check. I use the cheap jug wine for my evening wine. I am not a connoisseur of wine. I don't know a dry from sweet etc. The Dr told me the jug wine is just as good for the heart. Now I will look into this.
    Strange how much we DO NOT know about what we intake. And I believe there is also some intent to make the contents very small so I cannot read it easily. hahaha
    As always a very good point to your entry.
    Love from the Poconos...

  2. Very interesting and something I did not know. I guess it pays to pay attention to labels if you are having problems. Thankfully I don't have any digestive worries. My problem is that I like too many things and they all seem to like me too.

  3. Very interesting post. We both drink wine, my husband tends to drink more red wine. Research is great. I prefer white wines and on occasion, a good red wine.

  4. I don't drink wine but my husband does, so I will let him know. Thanks for the info.

  5. Hi Rose, I have enjoyed your comments on my blog. I'm not sure how to discuss your doll collection. I am so sorry to hear about your RA problems and hate that you are in pain.
    This post was sooo informative. I have trouble with some wines and recently different types of meat. Everything seems to change as we age!
    Nice to meet you! I hope you can continue to blog with your RA.

  6. Dear Rose, I heard that the red wine is good for you too. Soon we will be cutting out everything! I try to eat as additive free as is humanly possible. I don't even own a microwave oven. I figure that if I don't have time to make it I will wait until I do.
    Blessings dear. Catherine xo