The Question of Sulfites (Sulfur) in Wine
There is often confusion about the role of sulfites in wines. What better person to ask than our winemaker, Alex Reble?
Alex: There are two main ways of adding sulfites (sulfur) to a wine. First, at the crusher in the grape juice – in a powder form, called KMBS. Or, secondly, during the life of the finished wine in a liquid form. In recent years, several companies came out with a very clever sparkling tablet, which releases a predictable amount of sulfur as it dissolves in the wine. Simply put, it protects the wine from spoilage during its time in a tank, barrel or bottle.
Jane: What is your goal, in relation to sulfites, in crafting our wines?
Alex: My goal is to deliver to our customers blends with just the right pH, acids, alcohols and sulfurs. Our “Free sulfur” content is usually around 25 mg/L at bottling time for the whites and 30 mg/L for the reds. The Total sulfur is the cumulative amount of sulfur added during the life of the wine at the winery. Its level can vary a lot from wines to wines.
Jane: What are the legal requirements regarding sulfites?
Alex: As you can see below, producers in the United States have a much higher tolerance for sulfites in wines. Without going into a lot of detail and production data, what you need to know is that the total sulfites in our wines are definitely on the lower side – usually close to the legal limit imposed in Europe — around 150 mg/L.
Limit Legal Reference/Description
USA 350 mg/L
AUS 250 mg/L
NZ 250 mg/L
EU white/rosé, 200 mg/L
EU red 150 mg/L
Jane: So that must be why our customers tell us that our wines don’t leave them with headaches like they sometimes get with other wines?
Alex: Yes. I have no intention of giving anyone a headache from our wines. Headaches and other physical reactions to wine are indeed due to a high level of sulfurs and alcohol. My goal is to protect the wines as well as the tasting experience for our customers and guests. I aim to deliver well-balanced wines that please the palate and the senses…
Jane: Job well done, Alex!