Posts Tagged ‘sulfites’

Wine Review: Frey Pinot Noir 2009

October 20th, 2011 No comments

It may be September, but it’s not too early to start planning your trip to the 2012 Millésime Bio, Europe’s largest and most impressive organic wine conference that takes place yearly in Montpellier, France.  Among the winning wines from 2011 was a curious 2009 Pinot Noir from Frey Vineyards.  (It won a bronze medal.)  What is most interesting is that this wine hails from America’s first organic winery.  That’s right… it’s an organic wine from a “recent” American company founded in 1980!  With no added sulfites, this wine came in 3rd at a French wine competition.  Given that the conference featured over 500 organic winemakers, this is quite impressive.  So of course we had to try it!bottle of Frey Pinot Noir 2009

With flavors of strawberry, raspberry, pomegranate, and a hint of unsweetened jam, this very smooth wine is sure to make your tastebuds happy.  It’s a great fall wine, perfect for accompanying chicken, duck, goose, and even turkey meals.  (If pairing with turkey, for best results place a bit of sausage alongside the turkey meat; the sausage helps bring out the wine’s unique French oak flavor.)  This 2009 Pinot Noir also pairs well with flavor-rich fishes like salmon or red snapper.  Try a glass, and see what the French critics found so delightful!  You may be surprised an organic wine can taste this good!

“Contains Sulfites”–Don’t Fear the Label!

April 8th, 2011 No comments

Contains Sulfites” is printed on most bottles of wine we purchase.  We may even know people who claim to be allergic to sulfites and abstain from drinking red wine.  (They often substitute a few glasses of white.)  Other people complain that the sulfites in all wines give them headaches; they avoid drinking wine altogether, preferring other spirits.

sulfite wine label

What is interesting, however, is that use of sulfur dioxide is not limited to wine production.  In fact, sulfur dioxide is commonly used in the food industry, partly because of its antibacterial nature!  Sulfite levels in wine are actually much lower than those found in the majority of foods we consume.  Pizza, fruit juice, jams, jellies, cookies, crackers, soda, flour tortillas, hash browns, and other common foods contain substantially high levels of sulfites.  So do prescription medications.  Although a small number of people genuinely suffer from sulfite allergies, the majority of us do not–we can eat pizza or pop a pill without developing a rash, itching, or swelling up.  However, many folks are still quick to point to the “Contains Sulfites” label should a headache follow a few glasses of red.

If you have not been diagnosed with sulfite sensitivity, chances are that your headache is not caused by your glass of red or white!  (Why white?)  Contrary to popular thought, in actuality red wines contain fewer sulfites than white wines. That’s right!  Less sulfur dioxide is required to protect reds because of the tannins these wines naturally contain. Though sulfites have often been blamed for causing headaches, many people choose to drink whites with higher sulfite levels to avoid headaches!  The headaches such people experience when drinking red wine are, therefore, not caused by sulfites, but might be caused by the tannins in red wine, which release serotonin.  And high levels of serotonin–the “happy” hormone–are known to produce headaches.  If tannins are really the issue, think twice the next time you have a bar of chocolate, cup of tea, or healthy soy snack; these foods are also rich in tannins!

serotonin cartoon

Sulfites abound in the foods we eat daily, from pizza to processed potatoes, yet these foods do not display large  “Contains Sulfites” labels.  Dried fruit, alone, contains about ten times more sulfites than a glass of red wine.  If you consume dried fruit snacks and feel fine afterward, you probably do not have a sulfite allergy.  When it comes to wine, don’t buy into the sulfite hype. But obviously, if you experience frequent or severe headaches you should talk to your doctor.

dried fruit

courtesy of