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Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Sulfites in Wine

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There are plenty aspects of wine and winemaking that are misunderstood, but few as publicly or brutally as sulfites. The Severus Snapes of wine, sulfites are perceived as evil villains by the daytime TV doctor crowd when on the sly they are necessary to success and are totally not going to kill you, or Harry Potter, for that matter. And although it took seven long books to understand Snape, give me five minutes and I can explain everything you, a person who drinks a lot of wine, actually needs to know about sulfites.

Natural Sulfites vs. Added Sulfites
There are two types of sulfites, also known as sulfur dioxide: natural and added. Natural sulfites are just that, totally natural compounds produced during fermentation. And you cannot escape them. I know what your sage-burning, hippie homie told you but no, I’m sorry, you didn’t drink a 2009 sulfite-free wine in Topanga Canyon. Sulfite-free wines do not exist. It is literally literally impossible. Sulfites are also a preservative, but the fermentation process doesn’t produce enough sulfites to create the legendary cellar wines rich people love bragging about. You think you can just drink a wine that’s been sitting around for 50 years? No way. Added sulfites preserve freshness and protect wine from oxidation, and unwanted bacteria and yeasts. Without added sulfites, a 1961 Bordeaux would be considered trash vinegar rather than a treasure. “Sulfites are among the most helpful compounds around—and without them, some wines would taste like a microbial stew,” says Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible and editor of the weekly wine report WineSpeed. “Sulphur is a natural anti-microbial agent. It’s a terrific aid to winemakers—and ultimately wine drinkers, because it destroys bad microbes.”

Frey winery produces wines made with natural sulfites, but doesn’t add any, which means: drink …read more

Source:: Bon Appetit