Skip to main content

On occasion I will talk about wine to a non-wine aficionado, and they will invariably say, "O, I can only drink French or Italian wines as opposed to the US wines because they don't have sulfites and I get headaches." Well, I'm just assuming that the US market has warnings and disclosures and that the wines are the same whereas the other markets do not the regulatory requirements.

However, I do seem to remember reading somewhere that there were some French Chateaus that were releasing a different wine to the US market than the EU market. Perhaps (fining and filtering for the local market) vs not fining and filtering (for the US market)?

Sorry, I guess this is really two questions.

O, and what source are you using for etymology? The OED?

Thanks in advance.

I guess that three questions.
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Thanks for raising your hand, Tanglenet.

Sorry I didn't reply sooner, but you seemed to be getting some good responses. (I'm definitely not on strike: I was in Vancouver, presenting a seminar at the Society of Wine Educators annual conference. And then my parents came to visit.)

Sulfites are always a hot topic. As Rik answered, it's nigh impossible to make potable wine without some sulfites.

Sulfites bind oxygen, which can destroy wine's fresh fruit flavors. (Think of what happens when you slice an apple and leave it on the kitchen counter for a couple hours. The oxygen attacks; it turns the flesh brown and dulls the flavors.) This degradation is especially evident in white wines, which have more transparent, more delicate flavors than do red wines.

Sulfur dioxide is added in the vineyard and in the winery. Careful winemakers add only the tiniest amounts of SO2. If they add too much, the wine can smell sulfury, like burnt match tips.

Small amounts of SO2 are also produced by wine yeasts during fermentation so I believe that there really is no such thing as a sulfite-free wine.

I don't quite understand your fining and filtering question. ?? If you could restate, I'll do my darndest to come up with an answer post-haste.

As for the etymology question, I did a google search and, being the conscientious geek that I am, credited the source in my post:
Thank you Ms. Frazee for your answer on sulfites. Sorry for the confusing questions.

"I don't quite understand your fining and filtering question?"

I read somewhere that some French Chateau release a different version of the "same" wine to the EU market than the US market. I'm not sure what the difference is and took a shot on fining and filtering. I don't remember if was just a matter of different "localized" taste preferences, or if it is to help the wine withstand shock from shipping etc...

I was also trying to tie this question in with the sulfite question, which in a roundabout way is, do EU winemakers use less sulfites than US winemakers?

Thanks in advance!

O, and ask WS to buy you a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary on CD-ROM for your reference material. You will enjoy it.
I would like to suggest that your friends may not, in fact, be having a reaction to sulfites at all but may simply have been mis- "diagnosed" by someone in the past and have held on to this myth. Some people have alcohol allergies that seem to be accentuated byt certain types of beverages (my brother in law has problems drinking beer, but Scothc does not bother him, and his condition has been identified by his doctor). Or, it may just be the wine they are drinking. Maddog will give anybody a headache... Wink
Originally posted by Long Beach Wino:
The US gov. requires sulfite labeling on any wine with sulfites. there is sulfite free. When I was in France there was no such labels.
You can find more info at under labeling

Actually, the US Gov. only requires the 'Contains Sulfites' label if the amount of SO2 exceeds 10ppm. If the sulfite content is below 10ppm, no such label is necessary. That being said, you won't find too many wines in the US that do not bear the label.

As for sulfite-free wines, they don't exist. (See many of the posts above)

EU labeling regulations are different than the US and may not require a label--that doesn't mean they're sulfite-free.

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.