Low and No Sulphite Wines
Low Sulphite Wine – is not technically a recognised legal term, but a general description of a wine with a low amount of free sulphur. A good well made wine, which is safe for Jane to drink, will generally have less than 35 parts per million of free sulphur at bottling. This will have reduced in the first few weeks by a further 10ppm as some of the free sulphur will have combined with oxygen and been converted to bound sulphur.
Sulphite Free Wine – technically there is no such thing, but this is a term sometimes used to mean: preservative Free Wine or No Added Preservative Wine – this is wine where no additional free sulphur has been added during the winemaking process. The wine cannot be correctly described as ‘sulphite free’ because there are tiny amounts of bound sulphites in there from the fermentation process, but to all intents and purposes it is free of any harmful sulphites and safe for sulphite intolerant people to drink.
Organic wine is not necessarily ‘sulphite free’ or even low in sulphites, as sulphites are an organic compound and permitted in organic wines. Some organic wines will be lower than normal wines in TOTAL SULPHUR but are likely to have very similar levels of FREE SULPHUR and can be just as potentially dangerous to sulphite intolerant people as any other wine. Simply being labelled ‘organic’ is no guarantee that they’ll be safe for sulphite intolerant people. Always check out the free sulphur level first or simply opt for low sulphite wines instead.
Be very careful though, there are very few people in the wine trade who understand or know anything about sulphite intolerance, and there is a lot of misinformation out there. There are a lot of websites jumping on the ‘organic’ bandwagon who will tell you (wrongly) that organic wines are low in sulphur and safe for sulphite intolerant people to drink. THEY ARE NOT!
Why is sulphite free wine not more widely available?
Sulphite free wine will never be produced in commercial quantities as it is simply not commercially viable. Only a small percentage of people have an obvious reaction to sulphites so it’s perceived by the big retailers as a small problem for the minority.
It is very difficult to physically produce low sulphite or sulphite free wines as you need to implement a variety of additional measures (all expensive) to do the various jobs that sulphur does. There is also a high risk factor.
When making a wine with low (or no) free sulphur the slightest error can result in the whole batch being ruined, and the vineyard owner’s money goes down the drain. It only takes a brief power cut or a machine failure at bottling, a tiny leak or a seal not sitting properly and there isn’t enough sulphur to combat the oxygen in the air, and everything is ruined beyond repair.
A small number of dedicated perfectionists make these low sulphite or sulphite free wines with passion. By its nature it has to be on a small scale with hand picking and hand sorting, and is very labour intensive, highly skilled and fraught with risk. These wines simply cannot be produced to compete on price with the artificially low prices on our supermarket shelves.
If you want good quality, low preservative wines be prepared to pay a bit more per bottle. The good news however is that at this price you’re getting great quality wine, delicious and good for you!
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Here are a few links that will help you distinguish different types of wines, how they are made, how to make your own and more:
Wine Basics: http://winefolly.com/wine-basics-beginners-guide/
All About Wine: http://www.all-about-wine.com/
Wines and Wineries List
Here is a partial list of our exceptional wines:
We carry red and white versions.
Frey Vineyards’ commitment to organic agriculture runs deep. All of the vineyards planted and cared for by the Frey family are under organic management, including our first vineyards planted in the 1960s. Visit their site for more information.
Bee & Bramble Meade
Bee & Bramble is a small winery located in the town of Fairview, in the Appalachian mountains of western North Carolina. Our business was founded with a love of crafting meads, melomels, and metheglins from only the finest of ingredients, and from local and regional Appalachian sources. Click here to learn more on their website.
We carry Merlot and Malbec
Other Wines – if you don’t see your favorite here on this list or on our shelves- ask us if we can special order for you!
Pacific Red Wood