Sulphites In Wine – Dangers, Asthma & Hangovers – Wine’s Deodorant

The biggest contentious issue in terms of green wine is the whole ‘to add or not add’ sulphites. Some believe these to be the allergy causing chemical in wines. So organic wine is really great for the person who suffers from allergies as the organic wine has minimal sulphite levels

The addition of sulphites is normally used to kill yeasts and bacteria and preserve wine.  Sulphur dioxide which according to Professor Roger Boulton, Ph.D., University of California at Davis, all wines produce at some level. A human will produce over 1000 mg of it a day. We know that 1% of the population is allergic to this compound and the most in danger are asthmatics. For many years it’s being blamed for the hangover effect from red wine however there is no scientific evidence as yet to support this.

Wine labelled ‘organic wine’ has no sulphur dioxide added nor does biodynamic wine which is also one of the big attractions. However wines labeled ‘made from organic grapes’ do. Although they still do not contain the levels that conventional wines have;

350 ppm USA standard wines
10 ppm Organic wine USDA certified
160 ppm EU Red Wine
210 ppm EU White wines
210 ppm EU Rose wine
150 ppi Wine from organic grapes
100ppm Biodynamic wine (Demeter Standard)

Sulphur dioxide stops oxygenation and has been a very useful and somewhat natural tool in wine making. This has been used as a preservative well over a couple of centuries started by burning candles of the stuff into wooden casks before pouring the wine in to be sealed and shipped. If wine makers don’t use it then its risky business for them as their crop could, during the first stage of fermentation, turn to vinegar quite easily without the use of sulphur dioxide. For whites like Chardonnay you drink quite young but for certain reds like Cabernet Savingon as they age the character comes out. If they oxidise you loose the wine.

This may have been the reason in the early days when organic wines twenty years ago got a bad name. The organic wine makers may not have perfected their art and standards at that time. This left organic wines with a ‘funky’ reputation. Wine makers who deal with ‘wine made from organic grapes’ can however use some sulphur dioxide and this may be helping a great deal due to the amount of awards that these wines are now receiving.

Frey wines and The Heller Estate have received a whole raft of awards as well as Tamburlaine in Australia all of whom produce wine organically.

When the European Commission was recently considering banning it you can get a feel of how important it is from this following excerpt of an open letter sign by all the European wine lobbying groups;

Should the use of SO2 be banned, a great majority of wine-producing units would

find themselves in a very difficult situation, since there is currently no substance

that could replace SO2 in disinfecting and preserving wine containers in almost all

European winemaking units. Alternative processes are currently being developed,

but they appear to be even heavier, since they require special equipment.

Therefore, they cannot be used for example by small wineries, which account for a

huge majority of European wine-producing units.The use of SO2 therefore offers,

in comparison with those other products, many technical advantages and little

impact on the environment.


So wine without sulphites is good news for asthmatics who have a reduced risk of an asthma attack from organic wine as they dont contain sulphites. This could be life and death knowledge and good for the orgainc wine industry. This is good for you as these sulphites are also blamed for hangover effects. So try some organic wine next time you dine or party.

If you wish to know more please check out my new book NutriWine which has a whole chapter on organic wine. Please also let people know about the sulphites in wine and lack of them in organic wine.

Bestselling Health Guru Ralph Quinlan Forde is the author of and Holistic Medicine Consultant. He became an award-winning entrepreneur for a complimentary medicine company he set up in Ireland. His first book The Book Of Tibetan Medicine is now in 11 language editions. Ralph has contributed to The Irish Examiner, The Sunday Tribune, The Independent On Sunday, IVENUS, FeelGood, Tescos and Health and Fitness magazine. Ralph was shortlisted for the Potter’s Health writer of the Year.

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