And please do not worry about sulfites. That doesn’t cause headaches. Well, sulfites can, but you have to be a really bad winemaker for sulfites to cause a wine headache!!
For dry wines (and sweet too), we simply do not like additives. Modern winemakers have access to plenty of additives that are perfectly legal, from liquid oak to powdered tannins to all sorts of fining agents which are not used at Turtle Run. We talk to so many folks who can no longer drink dry reds due to headaches. Because our wines are based on grapes and aging in barrels, on lees (spent yeast cells) contact, with no oak or tannin additives, we get pure wine that keeps those headaches at bay. Many of the additives play with the anti-oxidant levels in wine and by default can add or expose histamines in the wines. And therein lies the problem – unnatural histamine and anti-oxidant levels in the wine.
Not sulfites. But wait? Urban legend says…Yes it does say that. So why add sulfites? Simple – keep the oxidation of the wine at bay, which keeps the wine fresh and fruity. Helps with aging too. BTW, wines that have been stripped, fined, and with all sorts of additives do not have the natural balance to age.
But the headache and other maladies tied with sulfites have to deal with a concept called bound in solution or volatile in solution. Volatile bad bound good. Huh?
When we clean equipment we use unbounded sulfur. Mixed with very hot water and citric acid, we create an awesome sterilizer and cleaner, one without any “harmful” chemicals. The staff knows fully well to stay away from the bucket. One smell and you lose your breath! It Burns the nose too!
Do any foods naturally contain sulfites? Yep. Most fruits and vegetables do. All bound! You can’t smell them and you can’t taste them. You don’t get sick with them. Or lose your breath either. Same with sound winemaking in which the parts per million are in solution at a low threshold that allows them to be an asset to the wine but yet cannot be sensitized by the consumer.
Just don’t smell the bucket if you’re in the winery on weekdays and we are cleaning. You’ll lose your breath. Sulfur has this not-so-wonderful ability to restrict our airways. For those that are asthmatic, that’s a huge concern. Olfactory senses are the issue and if the sulfur is volatile and not bound in solution, bingo, one smell and you have a constricted airway. Trust me!
Also, sometimes we get questions regarding sulfa allergies. Completely different. Sulfa is not sulfites. In summary, there are lots of “things” that can cause an allergic reaction, body type included. With wine, I very seriously doubt sulfites are causing any problems. Histamines absolutely are. Added tannins and fining agents disrupting the natural antioxidant levels I strongly believe are. Sugar is an absolute too, especially the glucose half of the sucrose molecule.