Nature does not make wine. We need man and his ability to cultivate the vine and vinify the grapes. The numerous substances that make up the wine have different origins: some are naturally present in the must, others are formed during fermentation, some are added during the vinification phase. For example, sulphites. Many wonder what they are and what the role of sulphites in wine is.
What are sulphites?
The term sulphites refers to sulfur dioxide added to wine. The sulphites in wine mainly have antioxidant, preservative and antiseptic properties. In many respects they are indispensable for the quality of the wine itself. Aside from the additions made by winemakers, sulfur dioxide is always naturally present in wine in very small quantities. In fact, spontaneous fermentation triggered by the yeasts present on the skin of the grapes produces sulphites.
Are sulphites in wine bad for you?
Sulfur dioxide may be present in food – not only in wine – in controlled quantities and below certain limits established by law. This is because sulphites are considered allergens and can trigger reactions in particularly sensitive individuals. For this reason, their presence must always be indicated on the label. The wording “does not contain sulphites” is permitted only if the concentration is less than 10 mg/liter.
What are sulphites used for?
Sulphites are a common category of chemicals frequently used in the processing of the food industry. Thanks to their particular preservative power, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, sulphites conserve food and save it from the proliferation of harmful bacteria.
In wine, they are added in various stages of processing and in various forms (often in solid form, added as a salt). In general they aim to control the evolution of wine, avoid the occurrence of defects and direct the path of fermentation and maturation in the desired direction.
The legal limits
The addition of sulphites in wine must be done within legal limits. In Europe, the limits are set at 160 mg/liter for reds, 210 mg/liter for whites and rosés and 400 mg/liter for sweet wines. In organic wines the threshold is lowered to 100 mg/liter for reds, 150 mg/liter for whites.
In the wines of Cantine Leonardo da Vinci, sulfites are added in every step of the vinification for preservative and antiseptic/antibacterial purposes, to guarantee a healthy and quality wine.