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Jul 6, 2014 05:02 PM

Sulfite free winery tour?

Think I am allergic to sulfites, but would like to check out a winery ( or 2) while we are visiting. Can anybody recommend a winery that produces wine without sulfites?

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  1. Sulfites occur naturally in wines, so strictly speaking, no.

    Added sulfites are anathema to "natural" winemakers such as Donkey and Goat in Berkeley and Natural Process Alliance in Santa Rosa.

    Added sulfites are banned in certified organic wine, but that's so rare as to be almost irrelevant. Wines made from organic grapes can have added sulfites if the wine itself is not certified organic.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      ok, don't really drink, but when in cali... just thought I would ask.

    2. Robert is quite right, sulfites are a natural component of all wines.

      (In that respect, I believe this is one of those topics where popular perception has veered away from the reality scientists understand -- though some winemaking does add deliberate sulfites as noted here. It's like MSG: you get the identical components of MSG, naturally, in many foods, sometimes in significant strength; they also occur naturally in healthy human bodies; but people think only about the ones they happen to've heard of, which are added deliberately; and based on thinking only about those, people are led to self-diagnose symptoms.)

      6 Replies
      1. re: eatzalot

        Sulfites are not like MSG, they're more like gluten. Sensitivity can be tested and effects include asthma attacks and anaphylaxic shock.

        Wines with no added sulfites have 10-40 ppm. Conventional wines average around 125 and legally can have up to 350.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          "Like" MSG only in the sense I wrote here: they acquire a popular mythos.

          As you already pointed out, completely "sulfite-free" wine is a contradiction in terms. Likewise, restaurants (few of which add pure MSG today anyway, it has such a stigma) mislead people if they proclaim "no MSG" and even, actually, if they claim the more defensible but still badly misleading "no added MSG" (ever hear of a Chinese restaurant that completely avoids soy sauce, bean pastes, fermented black beans, or other vegetable-ferment condiments? all concentrated sources of natural MSG). There are other such situations, e.g. people convinced they're somehow much better off consuming sucrose (table sugar) than glucose-fructose syrup ("HFCS"), unaware of what happens to sucrose as soon as it encounters digestive enzymes in body. Etc etc, the common denominator in each case being a narrow perception and a tendency to read simplistic dietary guidance into that perception.

          But I do agree, someone with a genuine sensitivity, to sulfites or any other dietary component, needs vigilance.

          1. re: eatzalot

            It's a medical fact that gluten and sulfites can cause anaphylactic shock and potentially kill people who are allergic to them. Given that, it doesn't seem relevant or appropriate to question the motives of someone looking for gluten-free or low-sulfite products.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I quite agree, if someone were questioning the motives of a post here -- which AFAIK has not occurred in this thread.

              The reality of food sensitivities (something I'm very familiar with personally) doesn't change the separate reality that designations like sulfite-free wine can be and are misinterpreted.

          2. re: Robert Lauriston

            According the the TTB lab, the average "conventional wine" is significantly below 125ppm.

        2. If you don't know why not see a doctor to find out? There are sulfites in many foods.

          1 Reply