The term sulphite is a concept that is often mentioned by wine enthusiasts when referring to sulphur dioxide (SO2). It is a preservative that is used frequently in the production of wine and other foodstuffs, due to its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. We can find it on food labels under the numbers E-220 to E-228.
SO2 plays a very important role in preventing oxidation and keeping food products fresh.
It is important to remember that, in the case of wine, sulphites are a natural by-product formed through yeast metabolism during fermentation. So, even if a winery did not add SO2, the wines would still contain sulphites.
The quantity of sulphites that a wine can contain is strictly regulated the world over. Any wine that contains more than 10 parts per million (ppm) of sulphur dioxide must include the expression “contains sulphites” on the label. Compared to other foodstuffs, the quantity of sulphites in wine is much lower; in red wine, the European Union imposes a maximum of 150 ppm, while in the case of meat and processed meat products it can be as high as 450 ppm and in dried fruits, up to 1000 ppm.
In white and sweet wines more sulphites can be added, as red wines contain tannins – themselves a stabilizing agent due to their antioxidant nature – and, in addition, almost all red wines undergo malolactic fermentation; that is to say, they are more stable in a microbiological sense, therefore less sulphur dioxide is needed to protect red wine during the processes of winemaking, oak ageing and cellaring.
The consumption of sulphites is generally harmless, although some people are allergic to them, with these intolerances often being related to respiratory problems. What is certain is that, if anyone were to suffer an adverse reaction to this substance, it would normally also occur with other foods that contain a larger quantity of sulphites.
Wines that have no sulphites added generally have a shorter shelf life and must be kept in the perfect storage conditions. In terms of maximum control, LAN’s winemaking uses this procedure to guarantee that a bottle of wine that is opened in any part of world is fresh and clean, and maintains the original character that we seek in each of them.
It is also certain that now, the broadening of our technical knowledge, more sanitary vine growing techniques that assure greater health in the grapes and avoid premature oxidation, as well as total hygiene in our facilities, have helped us greatly reduce the use of sulphites in the production of our wines and every year we manage to make more natural wines, with no detriment to their quality.
Because it is #VeryLAN to share knowledge about wine.