[NAFEX] Re: nafex Digest, Vol 14, Issue 17

tblists tblists at pshift.com
Fri Mar 5 21:43:27 EST 2004

>From: Tom Olenio <tolenio at sentex.net>
>As I learned, commercial winemakers need to preserve color, prevent 
>oxidation, extend bottle shelf life, enhance
>flavors and aroma's, and additives are the easiest way to achieve 
>this.  Don't get me wrong, not all producers
>behave this way, but some do.  Other producers will claim never to use 
>additives, but they will.  It ends up
>being a crap shoot if you are plagued by commercial red wine headaches.....

By additives, I would assume you mean sulfites.  ALL wines contain some 
amount of sulfites, even if they were not added: they are a natural product 
of yeast fermentation. Sulfites are not added willy-nilly by good 
winemakers...they are there for the reasons you mention above. Bacterial 
spoilage of wine can make it just as unpalatable as over sulfiting.  That 
said, bad wines (think jug, or the old screw-cappers before screw caps 
became trendy suddenly) can be oversulfited.  The legal max of sulfite in 
the US is 350 ppm free sulfite...the vast majority of wines have less than 
80.  Oversulfiting a good wine will ruin it as bad none at all.  Bad wine 
made from rotting grapes is what requires the big blast of sulfites to tame it.

>White wine has less of these additives, and many times it is only red wine 
>that bothers people with headaches.

Actually whites tend to be more heavily sulfited, as they are more 'tender' 
and suffer greater from oxidation.

>Some of those additives may be your problem.  You can make wine with NO 
>additives if you choose, or the bare
>minimums to achieve what is necessary, and keeps headaches at bay.

I agree making your own allows you to control the sulfite level best, but 
won't guarantee headache relief.  There are many other components in 
alcoholic beverages including fusel oils, ketones, and tannins which 
provide flavors, complexity, and, some feel, health benefits.  These other 
components have been implicated in the famous headaches, and red wines tend 
to have higher levels of them than most other alcoholic beverages.

>From: Thomas Olenio <tolenio at sentex.net>
>Campden are not used by the big guys, I think it has been replaced with
>Potassium Metabiasulphite or newer compounds.
>They both use sulphites but the campden is not as potent as the other.

This is true, wineries do not use campden tabs.  There are two types of 
sulfite powders used by winemakers; sodium and potassium metabisulfite. 
Campden tabs are just conveniently measured doses (10 grains) of either 
one. Wineries will use bulk powder every time due to its 
cost-effectiveness, serious home winemakers too.Sodium meta has been phased 
out by commercial wineries due to regulations limiting sodium content in 
the wines, potassium has therefore taken over.  Both materials work just as 
effectively, ounce for ounce.  A lot of the campden available to home 
vintners is sodium.

>From: Bob Sorenson <natvwine at cut.net>
>Almost any wine in the US has from
>between 100 and 300 ppm sulfite in the finished product, even organic wines.
>There are about 30 other less common additives approved for use by the BATF
>in the US.
>One potental source of headaches is from pesticide residue from the grapes
>themselves as these are usually sprayed quite a bit.

Organic wines CAN be made with added sulfites, but it is my understanding 
that they cannot use KMS or NaMS, but rather must use pressurized SO2 gas 
which is EXTREMELY dangerous stuff.  I'd rather use the powder, which is 
easily and harmlessly cleaned up when spilled.  Also, wine grapes tend to 
be sprayed less than table grapes, and studies have been done that find 
that whatever residues may remain (negligible as they are) are generally 
removed in processing, especially filtering and fining.

What I am getting at is that one has to be careful in perpetuating myths 
(like the pine needle thing) such as organic wines have no sulfites or 
spray residues, winemakers overdose wines with sulfite out of laziness or 
some sort of commercial market stability mentality, and even that wine 
headaches are a product of sulfites to begin with.  If you want to assure 
fewer headaches from wine, try:
1. Drinking less.
2. Drinking better. Better wines generally are made from better grapes 
which require less sulfiting.
3. Drinking whites.  Although they have higher sulfite levels they have 
fewer cogeners that may cause headache/hangover.
4. Making your own in order to know what you have.  The trick here is that 
it can take some real knowledge to make a good (i.e. low cogener) wine at 
home, especially without using ANY sulfites.
5. When you do make your own, use the least sulfite to get the job 
done.  For ciders I generally dose with 50 ppm after squeezing, and add no 

All respect,

Terence Bradshaw 	
1189 Wheeler Road
Calais, VT 05648
bradshaw at pshift.com

The views represented by me are mine and mine only................

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