Sulfite-Free & Natural Prosecco
Sulfite free wine tends to be a very popular subject among consumers. Similar to the gluten-free distinguishment in food products, sulfite-free products are sought after by consumers sensitive to the allergens. Despite popular belief, sulfite-free wine and prosecco do exist. However, identifying what products are sulfite-free isn't as simple as looking on the label of your favorite product. This could depend on their country of origin, their FDA status, and preservation practices.
Why are there sulfites in Sparkling Wine?
Many prosecco drinkers wonder why sulfites are contained within their bubbly in the first place. The term sulfite is a broad term for a range of sulfur compounds. The most common compound found in most wines and proseccos is sulfur dioxide. These compounds are a natural by-product of the fermentation process that works as a preservative against certain yeast and bacteria. Some of the yeast and bacteria found in wines and prosecco can quickly destroy the quality of the product if left to multiply unchecked.
However, the naturally produced sulfites from wines and proseccos only protect for so long. Usually, these sulfites can protect the product for a few weeks to a few months before the proliferation of yeast and bacteria take over. This is where the “added” sulfites are included to help extend the life of the product. These added sulfites help to hold back the bacteria and yeast, but at a big cost.
Sulfites are classified as an allergen by the FDA. An allergen is any substance the immune system perceives as a threat to the body. This occurs when the body comes in contact with a range of substances, including ones that typically do not pose a threat. The body reaction to this substance is known as an allergic reaction and varies from mild to life-threatening.
Any wine or prosecco producer that has sulfites detected at a level of 10 mg/L or higher must disclose this on their wine label. The feds created this policy to protect individuals who suffer from allergic reactions to high concentrations of sulfites. Like many other substances that cause allergic reactions the symptoms from a sulfite reaction can include:
- rash or hives, which may be itchy
- a burning or itching sensation on the lips, mouth, or throat
- runny nose or nasal congestion
- swelling of the lips, mouth, or throat
- shortness of breath
- digestive upset, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
If you as a producer of wine or prosecco are able to prove that your product has a sulfite level below the 10 mg/L threshold, you may apply for an exemption. The exemption allows for producers to be classified as “sulfite-free”. Many consumers look for the sulfite-free label when purchasing prosecco to enjoy their bubbly without the concern of an allergic reaction.
This, however, only applies to domestic products or wines produced in the United States. Many foreign producers are not required to put a warning, meaning popular imported wines and prosecco can contain high levels of sulfites unannounced to the consumer.
It should be noted that The FDA estimates that less than 1% of the US population is sulfite-sensitive. Although prosecco consumers should be concerned about the level of sulfites in their bubbly, the naturally occurring small amounts should pose very little threat. And although it's a common belief that sulfites also cause headaches, medical research is not definitive on the relationship between sulfites and headaches. There are many other compounds in wine such as histamines and tannins that are more likely connected to the headache effect.
Sulfites are a part of the natural make of wine, but understanding how and for how long they help to preserve the wine’s taste over time is key. Knowing this will help you determine which proseccos are right for you!
Added Sulfites in Prosecco
Sulfites are a natural preservative. However, large producers and distributors of wine look to preserve their product on store shelves longer than the natural sulfites will allow. This is where the “added” sulfites are injected to increase the shelf life of a product. This is especially bad for wines like prosecco that aren't meant to be kept for a long time but consumed within 2-3 years of bottling. Big companies add sulfites to wine to make sure their wines taste good, even after sitting on the shelves for years. The good news is consumers looking for sulfite-free prosecco do have great options.
No Added Sulfite and All-natural Prosecco
Although SYLTBAR’s all-natural Prosecco still contains sulfites, they are those that are naturally occurring and as a result fo the fermentation process. Our wine producers do not try to extend the shelf life or improve wine taste by adding sulfites to the wine. This means that bottles of SYLTBAR Prosecco available in the market are all freshly bottled.