Sulfites are commonly used as a preservative in wines to extend their shelf life. This makes the wine more stable and keeps the optimal condition of the wine for longer.
This is particularly apparent in terms of the flavor profile, as this can quickly deteriorate without the inclusion of sulfites.
Some people report feeling ill or having other adverse health effects after consuming wine that contains sulfites. It can be very difficult to source wines without a sulfite content as they are much less simple to produce, transport, and store.
This does not mean that you need to stop drinking wine altogether, as there are a multitude of ways to remove sulfites from wine.
There are a number of different products and methods that can be used. We have collated a few below for you to try and included links to sulfite removal products.
We have also provided you with some more in-depth information about what sulfites are and why people may opt to remove them before drinking their wine.
What Happened Before Sulfites?
It is believed that before the invention of sulfites there were a number of different ways to preserve wine. One such practice, that dates back to the Ancient Roman era, is adding sulfur dioxide to wine.
This was believed to stop the fermentation process and prevent the wine from being converted into vinegar.
So What Actually Are Sulfites?
Sulfites are chemical compounds that are found with a sulfur dioxide (or sulfite) ion. These compounds occur naturally and can be found in a huge range of foods. Some examples include eggs, most fermented foods, black tea, and peanuts.
Sulfites are also added during the production process to a wide variety of commercially produced foods. Some examples of this include dried and pickled produce, juice, Jell-O, jelly, sausages, and soda.
Sulfur has a naturally repellant rotten egg smell. It is easily noticeable and distinguishable from other smells. For this reason, it is often added to natural gases as a security measure.
If natural gas begins to leak, particularly in high quantities, the sulfur gas will also escape. This will rapidly and efficiently alert those nearby to the presence of a gas leak so that correct precautions can be taken.
The purpose of sulfites in wine is different. They are added to decrease the oxidation of the liquid. Oxidation is a process whereby the compounds found in wines react with the oxygen that naturally occurs in the air.
Coincidentally, oxidation is the same process that occurs in cut apples, turning the white flesh brown. Oxidation can also discolor wine, and cause it to lose its freshness.
Sulfites are naturally antimicrobial compounds. This means that they slow and even prevent the growth of bacteria, allowing the wine to be stored safely for an extended period.
Some sulfites, such as potassium metabisulfite, are used to sanitize wine barrels and other wine-making equipment.
Why Do People Remove Sulfites From Wine?
As of 1986, sulfites have been recognized as an allergen by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that while the risk of experiencing side effects or an allergic reaction from the consumption of sulfites is low, it is not unheard of.
If the sulfite levels of the wine are greater than 10 mg per liter, legislation states that the presence must be disclosed on the bottle’s label.
Approximately 1 percent of the American population is believed to suffer from a sulfite sensitivity, according to the FDA data. Their data also suggests a weak positive correlation between a sulfite sensitivity and asthma sufferers.
If you suffer from this comorbidity, we strongly advise avoiding sulfites altogether. If you begin to have an allergic reaction then your throat will likely close up due to the irritation of your respiratory tract. If you struggle to breathe already, then this can be fatal.
The FDA data also suggests that headaches will be suffered after drinking wine if you are sensitive to the sulfite content. There is no conclusive evidence to back this up as there are a number of compounds in wine.
Some notable ones include tyramine, histamines, alcohol, and flavonoids, all of which are also known to induce headaches.
Other adverse effects as a result of consuming sulfites are known to be wide-ranging. They can span from diarrhea, stomach aches, and bloating all the way to hives, swollen joints, anaphylaxis, and death in rare cases.
These sachets are made by a company called Wine Balanced. They can be purchased in packs of 18, 36, or 72 ranging from $19.95 to $64.95. They are similar in appearance to a teabag and are produced using all-natural ingredients from the Black Sea in Norway.
The sachets naturally reduce the sulfite and tannin concentrations of your wine, making the adverse effects disappear. There are no changes to the flavor or mouthfeel and the company offers a 100% money-back guarantee if you are unsatisfied with the product.
The sachets can be reused for up to 4 glasses of wine or 1 bottle. It takes 5 minutes to work.
These are produced by a company called Drop It and come in packs of 1, 2, 4, 6, or 22. The price point ranges from $14.99 to $186.99. A single bottle can treat around 28 glasses of wine or approximately 4 bottles of wine.
These drops are effective in as little as 20 seconds and in all different types of wines. They remove some of the tannins in the wine as well as the sulfites.
These are produced by the company PureWine. You can purchase the wand purification stick in packs of 3, 8, 24, 48, or 72. The price points range from $11.99 to $137.99.
The major downside to this product is that each stick is single-use and must be disposed of afterward. A separate wand purification stick is required for each glass of wine.
These products are said to remove both the sulfites and histamines from your glass of wine. They can be used on red, white, and sparkling wines without compromising the flavor or mouthfeel.
The wands can purify and aerate a glass of wine in 3 minutes.
These are also produced by the company PureWine. These are small glass toppers for wine bottles that are inserted into the opening of the neck. They come in a pack of 2 for the price of $19.99. As with the wand purification sticks, each of the bottle toppers is single-use.
These products are said to remove both the sulfites and histamines from your glass of wine. They can be used on red, white, and sparkling wines without compromising the flavor or mouthfeel. They will purify and aerate your wine as you pour it out of the bottle.
This spray is produced by a company called SO2GO and comes in packs of 2 sprays, 5 sprays, or 12 sachets. The price for these ranges between $14.95 and $19.95. The product was developed in Australia and is incredibly popular over there.
A single sachet can be used to treat an entire bottle of wine. All you need to do is pour it down the neck into the bottle, seal the opening, and invert the bottle to mix. Once you are satisfied with the mixing, you can pour out and consume your wine as normal.
The sachets remove free sulfur dioxide (in particular the 220 and 224 levels) from your wine. These products will also work with champagne, cider, beer, and non-alcoholic drinks.
This is a common bathroom product with a huge range of versatile applications. It is a mild antiseptic product that can be used topically on the skin to prevent infections to open wounds.
It is also used as a mouthwash to relieve symptoms of cold sores and gingivitis or to remove mucus.
While these do not sound like the most delicious applications, hydrogen peroxide can help to improve the flavor of your wine. It will oxidize the sulfites in the wine and convert them into hydrogen sulfate compounds.
This will remove the sulfites and make it safe for you to drink. You will only need a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide to be effective, and this concentration is low enough to make it safe to drink.
This is a product that is designed to quickly and easily remove the sulfites from your wine at the point of pouring. The product simply rests on the opening of your empty wine glass and you pour the wine through it.
As the wine passes through the filter, the liquid becomes aerated and the sulfites are removed. As well as being good for people with sulfite sensitivities or allergies, this is believed to enhance the flavors of the wine.
Users state that it is easier to notice the milder undertones in the flavor profile after using, that otherwise would have been missed.
Üllo is available on Amazon for $79.99.