Wine holds a special place in the hearts of many. The complexity of flavors, the aroma that dances from the glass, and the experience of savoring a fine wine are unparalleled to many other experiences. But for some, wine can be a source of discomfort due to the presence of sulfites.
While sulfites are considered safe for most people, some individuals may experience adverse reactions, such as allergies or sensitivities, when consuming wines with high sulfite content. These reactions can include headaches, skin rashes, or respiratory issues. People who suffer from these side effects may try to seek out sulfite-free wine, but it's important to understand that the concept of completely sulfite-free wine is a bit of a misnomer. What you want to look for is wine that is low in sulfites, more specifically, free of any added sulfites.
Wine naturally contains sulfites, so it would be challenging to have entirely sulfite-free wine without the use of some form of chemical intervention — and if there is a chemical intervention, the wine is no longer natural and now you’re dealing with additives in your wine.
Here are some of the reasons why natural sulfites are present in wine:
- Natural Sulfites in Grapes: Sulfites are compounds that occur naturally in grapes. During the fermentation process, yeasts that naturally inhabit grape skins produce sulfur dioxide, which acts as a preservative. These natural sulfites help protect the wine from oxidation and spoilage. So, even from the moment the grapes are harvested, some level of sulfites is already present in the winemaking process.
- Preventing Spoilage: Historically, sulfites were used by winemakers to prevent wine from turning into vinegar and to maintain its freshness. Without some level of sulfites, wine can become unstable and spoil quickly.
- Microbial Control: Sulfites also serve as an antimicrobial agent. They inhibit the growth of unwanted bacteria and yeasts that can negatively affect wine quality.
- Oxygen Protection: Sulfites help protect wine from the harmful effects of oxygen exposure, which can lead to undesirable changes in the wine's aroma and taste.
Given these natural occurrences and the importance of sulfites in winemaking, it is nearly impossible to produce entirely sulfite-free wine without using chemicals of some sort to rid the wine of its sulfites.
You will never find any of these additives in a bottle of SYLTBAR because the grapes are given enough time to fully develop, and the natural sulfites that are found in the soil where the grapes are harvested from is enough for the wine to be safe enough for people to consume. It takes about 1 1/2 years — but, as our producers assure us, that is for small-batch production. On top of the long fermentation time, it also much more cost intensive to produce this way.
The goal is not to completely eliminate sulfites but to reduce their presence to the point where they don't cause adverse reactions for individuals with sensitivities. Our producers never add or remove anything from their wine. SYLTBAR contains its natural amount of sulfites, which is around 25ppm, compared to other commercial wine brands that have about 150ppm.
Many mass-produced brands add extra sulfites to their wine to keep it shelf-stable for an extended period of time so they can increase the production quantity, which also keeps production costs down. Then wine is produced in bulk, it means million of cases are produced in one shot and that takes a while to completely sell out — so the amount of sulfites has to be very high to make sure that the wine doesn’t go bad over time, since it could be a while until it’s in the hand of the end consumer. More sulfites means higher sugar and alcohol levels, and because wine is regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (the "TTB"), and not the FDA, wine makers are NOT required to list their ingredients on the label.
This means that a bottle of wine, even a very expensive and highly-rated one, can have up to 72 “allowed” additives, such as mega purple coloring dye, fish bladder (which are used to filter the juice), and corn syrup. Not only are you paying for these additives and putting these toxic substances in your body, but purchasing these types of wines is supporting commercialization in the wine industry.
Did you know over 50% of all wines sold in the U.S. are made by just 3 large corporations? They hide behind boutique labels, but their wine is manufactured in huge facilities. Our winery has always been invested in 100% natural production — way before organic came to life — because of their respect for nature and their belief that purity makes the best wines.
We are very transparent in the way our wines are made. This is why you will always find the fill-date on the label of each bottle. Our wines are not produced in large amounts, so don’t be surprised when you do not see SYLTBAR available at every wine shop, retail store or restaurant. We are more about quality over quantity. As far as we know, we are the only Prosecco brand that disclosed their fill date.
There are a lot of benefits to drinking wine that is lower in sulfites. Mainly, it is the healthier option. Low-sulfite wine can be an excellent choice for those who are sensitive to sulfites or have sulfite allergies. By eliminating these compounds, you can enjoy wine without the fear of adverse reactions — or a hangover. Many wine lovers claim that wine without any added sulfites leads to fewer hangover symptoms. While individual reactions can vary, it's worth exploring for those looking for a gentler post-wine experience.
It also provides a much more pure wine-drinking experience. Without the influence of added sulfites, these wines often provide a more authentic representation of the grapes and the vineyard's terroir. You get a truer taste of the region where the grapes were grown. Additionally, low-sulfite wine making often aligns with sustainable and organic practices, contributing to a more eco-conscious industry, which is something our producers care deeply about.
One important thing to keep in mind is that these low-sulfite wines may have a shorter shelf life and should be stored properly to maintain their quality. For example, we advise that our fine wines be drunk within 2 days of opening since there are no added sulfites. For Mr Premium Prosecco and Mrs Sparkling Rosé, we advise to drink them within 5 days of opening — and don’t forget to use one of our Italian-made bottle stoppers to keep the juice fresh if you don’t finish the bottle in one sitting.
Low-sulfite wine is more than just a trend. Whether you have sulfite sensitivities or you're looking for a more health-conscious wine experience, low-sulfite wine offers a unique and authentic taste of the wine in its purest form.
To shop for wine without any added sulfites, visit syltbar.com or look for a retailer in your area that carries our brand.