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The Question of Sulfites (Sulfur) in Wine

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?

Jane:  So, Alex, for heaven’s sake, let’s start at the beginning. What are sulfites? And why do we find sulfites in wine??
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!

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