At Vegan Wines, we often get questions about sulfites in wine. We understand that naturally vegan wine and claims of “no sulfites” sound like they should go together, but consider this…
What are sulfites?
Sulfite, or sulfur dioxide, is a natural compound produced during the fermentation process. For this reason, ALL wines have sulfites. According to Bon Appetit, “Sulphur is a natural anti-microbial agent. It’s a terrific aid to winemakers—and ultimately wine drinkers—because it destroys bad microbes.”
So, in fact, sulfite-free wines just don’t exist.
Added sulfites, however, are a preservative used in winemaking to keep it fresh. The sulfites help prevent the wine from oxidating and keep it tasting good—rather than turning sour like vinegar. They help the wine stay on the rack for longer periods of time.
Read More: Are all our wines organic?
At Vegan Wines, we don’t consider it to be an issue if a wine has sulfites, but more importantly, we consider how many ADDED sulfites it has. In the United States, the maximum amount of added sulfite wine can have is 350 parts per million.
Vegan Wines is all about winemaking processes that exclude animal products in the wines, but we also believe in keeping the winemaking process in balance with nature as much as possible. (To us, this is also a big part of veganism!)
Because we also believe in transparency here at Vegan Wines, we’d like to be transparent about sulfites using one of our featured Chilean wines as an example.
The 2018 Tringario Cartesiano Carignan Pais is a delicious wine produced by a husband and wife duo in a small, family-owned winery down in Chile. Jose and Trinidad believe in keeping their wines in true balance – from the grapes to the bottle. They produce this wine with a total of 56 mg of sulfites in total. (To put that in perspective, dried fruits have many more sulfites!)
Sulfites are in many things you eat
We’re talking French fries, pickles, fruit leather, pizza crust, dried fruits, and more. You’re likely already consuming sulfites in larger quantities from foods than you are from drinking wine. (And less than 1% of the population is actually allergic to sulfites.)
According to Healthy Eating, “Dried fruits are among the foods highest in sulfites, with raisins and prunes containing between 500 and 2,000 parts per million. By comparison, wine – a food thought by many to be high in sulfites – contains between 20 and 350 parts per million.” However, the FDA mandates that foods containing more than 10 parts per million of sulfites put this information on the food label.
So yes, that’s why you’ll see “Contains Sulfites” on most of your wine bottles. Without added sulfites, some wines would taste terrible, and your many of treasured aged wines would be… vinegar.