Myths dispelled. Facts given.
The truth about red wine and sulfites.
Sulfites. Many people blame them for a headache that wine, particularly red wine can induce.
The truth is sulfites are not causing that headache. Unless you are having an allergic reaction to them they likely are not affecting you at all. In people with allergies to them or those with asthma they can trigger some pretty severe reactions up to and including death but the number of people affected in such a way is relatively low.
So why do sulfites get such a bad rap?
Most people do not understand them or their reason for being in the wine they drink. Sulfites occur naturally in every wine. If you have ever gotten wine outside of the US, you may have found the label contained no sulfite warning. That is not because the wine had no sulfites it is because only the US has laws saying that information must be included on the winemaker’s labels. Sulfite is naturally occurring and is present in all wine regardless of color.
Sulfites are also added to wine to inhibit the growth of natural yeast and bacteria that occurs in the wine making process. If the sulfites were not added the wine would take on a spoiled bitter taste. It also helps extend shelf life as without it wine would not have one.
So now that the reason sulfites are used is known, what exactly are they. They are always alluded to but rarely explained. Sulfites, in a nutshell, are a compound that contains the sulfite ion. They are a preservative. A salt. And the also naturally occur in our own bodies.
Nothing more or less.
Though they are among the top ten allergens in the world, they are not all that prevalent on the allergy scale. They are safe to drink and there has been no scientific study that proves positive that the sulfites in wine are the cause of headaches.
Kick up your feet, have a glass of deep red and rest easy knowing it is not a sulfite causing that headache. Just be sure not to overindulge, because it is almost certain you’ll end up with a hangover migraine!