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Let’s talk sulfites.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is one of a group of sulfur-based chemicals called sulfites. Winemakers use SO2 to preserve the appearance, shelf-life and safety of wine. Sulfites have wonderful antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Small amounts of sulfur dioxide occur naturally as a by-product of fermentation, generally not enough to preserve the wine, so SO2 is added to the desired level. Around 99% of commercial wines contain sulfites. A fun fact, red wine has the least amount of sulfites, white wine comes in second, and sweet wine has the most .

Since 1988, “Contains Sulfites” is legally required on the label of any bottle of wine sold in the US. Only those wines containing less than 10 ppm (parts per million, also seen as milligrams per liter – mg/l) are exempted. Wines typically range from 20 to 200 ppm.

A Decanter magazine article (3/18/16) quotes Andrew Waterhouse, Professor of Enology at UCDavis in California, he asserts “There is no medical research data showing that sulfites cause headaches.” That Red Wine Headache likely comes from the histamine and tyramine, two other chemical compounds found in red wine. True sulfite intolerance or allergy reportedly affects less than 1% of the US population.

At Pour Vous, we carry a selection of wines made from organically grown grapes and wines with low to no-detectable sulfites. Most are under $10.



Ted, everyone’s favorite old wine guy