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Sulfite-free wines

19 de October, 2020

Wines without sulfites? The answer is unequivocal: there are none. Sulfites are one of the by-products of alcoholic fermentation. Now all wines have to go through an alcoholic fermentation, because it is during this fermentation that the natural sugars in the grape are transformed into alcohol. Therefore, all wines have sulfites.

You're wondering... would you swear you've ever heard of sulfite-free wine? It is possible. What happens is that the nomenclature "sulfite-free wines" is misused. In fact, this expression should be corrected to "wines without added sulfites".


What are sulfites?

What are sulfites anyway? As I mentioned above, they are a by-product of fermentation, which exists naturally in fermented foods such as bread and - of course! - wine. Sulfites are the compounds derived from sulfur, which has sulfur in its formula. In winemaking sulfites have been proven to be used for hundreds of years in wine production. There is even a belief that it was already in use when the Romans were around...


What are sulfites in wine used for?

Sulfites perform several functions in a wine. Among them, I highlight their power as a microbial stabilizer, since sulfites inhibit the growth of microorganisms that can interfere and deteriorate the quality of wines. No less important is its antioxidant power. Since wine aging is nothing more than an oxidation, sulfurous, sulfites help wines to be better preserved in time.

In reality, wines may not need sulfite addition. Natural or minimal intervention wine is proof of that. But it is important that you know that wines without added sulfites do not taste the same as conventional wines and that natural wine is far from the taste profile of conventional wines.

Because sometimes in the middle is where the virtue is, a type of wine has arrived that is neither natural wine nor conventional wine, thanks to advances in enology and the wisdom acquired by winemakers. It is a type of wine that is produced using the conventional way of making wine, but which does not have any sulfites added to its production process.

This way you get an aroma and taste closer to conventional wines than to natural wine.



Advantages of sulfite-free wines

Please note that this is for people who are allergic to sulfites! If you usually have symptoms such as red spots, itching or rashes, sneezing, headaches, or even asthma symptoms when you drink wine, it is possible that you have a sulfite allergy, or you drank too much. In the first case, be aware that the amount of this compound found in a wine without added sulfites is very small. So it is perfectly possible that you can drink this type of wine without showing such symptoms.


Disadvantages of sulfite-free wines

The disadvantage of sulfite-free wines is essentially the uncertainty of the path during aging that these wines may have, and here I refer in particular to natural wine. Compared to the wine that the winemaker produces - in which the only difference is the non-use of sulfites - this type of wine certainly has a path that should be more linear, or safer and predictable, so to speak, during its aging stage, compared to the path of a natural wine.

It is always good to know that we have a choice. And in this case, the choice is yours. Anyway, one more secret of the wine world is revealed. The knowledge remains... because this one doesn't cause allergies and never takes up any space.

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Hélder Cunha

My life is the wine

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