“Wait! Wines have preservatives!”
A growing number winemakers seem to be talking about preservative-free wines by the day. To understand what are preservative-free wines, we need to know that wines often contain sulphur dioxide. Let us reflect on what it is, and the role it plays in wine preservation.
While it’s not the only one, sulphur dioxide is the most widely used preservative in wine. Wine aficionados may have even noticed the “Preservative 220 Added” line on labels. 220 is the code for Sulphur dioxide. It is also often referred to as sulphites, or maybe written as SO2. Interestingly, it’s the same chemical that is used for preserving dried fruit, such as apricots.
Role of sulphites in wine
We have all heard of the age-old cliché that the older a wine, the better. This is probably true for most wines, except for the ones that are crafted for immediate consumption. Wines mature over the years, and as they do, the flavours come together and get balanced. (Hence you may experience more individual flavours when you taste a newer wine.) For wines to be able to last so many years, decades in many cases, SO2 may be added since it discourages bacterial growth and oxidization. Its importance in winemaking cannot be underplayed.
“Is Sulphur Dioxide Harmful?”
Debunking the myth, no, it’s not! Unless you have a ‘wine allergy’, you don’t need to avoid them. Those intolerant to the chemical may experience symptoms like dizziness, headaches and congestion. Asthma patients are more prone to these allergic reactions than others.
“I drink mostly organic wines. Are organic wines preservative-free?”
Simply speaking, organic wines contain no ‘added’ sulphur dioxide to much less of it than the amount a normal wine may contain. We use the term added because all wines, including organic, have some naturally-occurring sulphites anyway. Released during grape fermentation, they act as natural preservatives.
“Which Preservatives Are Used In Wines?”
Apart from SO2, potassium metabisulphite is used as a preservative in wine too. It is coded as ‘preservative 224’.
“Which Is The Best Australian Preservative-free Wine?”
Our list of some great preservative-free Australian wines includes Battle of Bosworth Puritan Shiraz, Bunn Shiraz, Freehand Merlot and Happs Preservative Free Red/ PF Red.