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3 reasons to drink more sulphite-free wine

Truly sulphite-free wine may not exist, but there are plenty of winemakers out that are pretty close. Sulphur dioxide (SO2) occurs naturally in wine during the fermentation process, and there’s nothing that producers can do about that. Where they have some freedom, however, is the levels of SO2 they add (or don’t add) during winemaking.

3 good reasons to drink more sulphite-free wine

Wine without added sulphites is more and more common, moving from the fringes towards something more mainstream. Producers of organic, biodynamic and natural wines in particular are on the cutting edge when it comes to cutting out sulphites. Here are three good reasons to drink more of the stuff:

  1. Health

The case of sulphites as the wine bogeyman is largely overstated. Claims that sulphites in wine cause headaches, horrible hangovers and worse generally lack scientific basis, though there is one very clear exception. Those suffering from asthma may also have a particularly strong intolerance to sulphites, and should be actively avoiding them anyway. This only applies to around 1% of the general population, and your doctor will have already told you all about it.

To keep things in perspective: the level of sulphites in wine generally is a lot lower today than any time in the past, and wine pales in comparison to other consumer goods like dried fruits and fruit juices when it comes to SO2 levels.

There are various sustainable wine movements that work to minimise or eliminate SO2 addition, though. If you’re one of the minority, or would like to consume a little less of the stuff, sulphite-free wine is your friend!

  1. Support the industry

Winemaking is a labour of love, and nowhere is this more apparent than in organic, biodynamic and natural wine production. Foregoing the use of artificial fertilisers, herbicides, fungicides and so on leaves a lot to chance in the vineyard. An untimely outbreak of mildew or other disease could wipe out an entire vintage. And that’s before you even get the grapes to the winery.

Eliminating sulphites from winery operations leaves a lot of room for things to go south during the winemaking process. SO2 is a preservative and disinfectant, and its absence can leave the wine susceptible to irreparable spoilage.

That’s a lot of risk on the winemaker’s part, before you even get into the additional time and money required. The least you can do is buy a bottle or two of the stuff, right?

  1. Taste the terroir

The French concept of terroir – roughly translatable to a wine’s sense of place – may seem like a strange one to draw upon when talking sulphites. One of the key gripes that natural winemakers have with the addition of SO2, however, is their belief that sulphites strip away or dumb down the wine’s terroir-driven identity.

This isn’t some high concept stuff, either. The argument is that, quite literally, SO2 additions can mask or remove the unique aromas, flavours and characteristics that the wine derives from its place of origin. If you really want to taste something authentic and true to where it comes from, sulphite-free may be the way to go!

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