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Organic Wine Info - Biodynamic and Preservative Free Wines

... compiled by Dieter L. - Gold Coast

Organic and free of preservative wines are unfortunately hard to find.

Many bottle shops only stock conventional wines.

Organic Wine Information:

One misconception about Organic Wine in Australia is that it contains no preservatives.

Certification requirements vary across the world, but in Australia, under organic & bio dynamic certification, the amount of preservative allowed in the final product is about 50% of what can be used under conventional Australian food standards for wine.

However, In the USA, to label your wine as "Organic Wine" no preservative can be added at all.

Sulphur Dioxide E220 (SO2) is the principle preservative used in the production of wine, as a protection against oxidation and bacterial spoilage.

Sulphur dioxide is an extremely effective preservative and disinfectant that has been used in winemaking for thousands of years. (not that this is making it any better for people who react to it. )

It may be worth mentioning, that there are more preservatives used in making white wines than red wines.

However, E220 is not the only substance which you may react to, Oak-derived tannins can provoke an allergic reaction by promoting histamine production, causing headaches. Oak is widely used in red winemaking.

And talking of allergic reactions, if you have an intolerance to salicilates, you may also react to wines, esp. if you have more than you should :-) .

Salicilates intolerance is triggered by having too much of it, if you are lucky you may tolerate 1 glass, esp. if you had no other salicilates containing food or drinks within the same day.

Regarding Allergies or Sensativities to Wine - please be aware, that alcohol will make any type of allergies worse.

In Australia, Sulphur Dioxide addition is allowed to the maximum level of 250 ppm for dry wines, up to 300 ppm for sweet wines. This is equivalent to just one-and-a-half tablespoons per 1,300 bottles of wine.

By comparison, sulphur dioxide is often used more liberally in preserved fruit such as dried apricots, which are allowed up to 3,000 ppm.

Few winemakers use more than 120 ppm of sulphur dioxide in white wines, red wines are usually given 50–80 ppm for bottled wine.

If you’re sensitive to preservative levels in your wine, it would be advisable to drink only bottled dry red wines, rather than white and sweet styles.

Current additive labeling laws in Australia state that if the detectable amount of preservative in a wine is more than 10 ppm, it needs to be on the label.

For health and allergy considerations it is the free sulphur level that is the main concern. The figure usually quoted is made up of both the bound sulphur and the free sulphur, which added together give the total sulphur level.

Please Note:
Even wines that have had no sulphur dioxide added in the winemaking process can still contain minute quantities. Sulphur dioxide is a natural product of fermentation, but it is in a form that is very much bound up in the wine, rather than in a free and active state.

The term "Preservative Free" is just used to indicate that no sulphur has been added to the wine.

Bottling - Screw cap closure is a more perfect seal than the cork or cask, and hence less sulphur is needed.

Wineries are allowed to call a wine sulfite-free when the levels of sulfite are under 10 parts per million (ppm).


Feel free to contribute, send us your experiences with Allergies and Natural Therapies - Contact us here

Information and recommendation provided by Dieter L. - useNature - Editor

Additional Notes on sulphites:

The preservative Potassium Metabisulphite (PMS - 224) is an allowable wine additive and hence can be added to wine, grape juice and grape must.

Chemically there is little difference between the addition of PMS (224) and Liquid Sulphur Dioxide (220) both will form the Sulphite Ion and Molecular Sulphur Dioxide in wine and hence companies tend only to quote 220 on the label. The only difference in using PMS is that it does increase the level of Potassium. It should be noted however that Potassium is naturally found in wine at levels far greater than any addition of PMS.

Having said this, it is not common practice to use PMS for additions to wine as the addition of liquid Sulphur Dioxide is effective and relatively simple.

The main process stage where Potassium Metabisulphite is commonly used is on mechanically harvested grapes out in the field and any small potassium increase from this addition will naturally precipitate out as Potassium Bitartrate during the winemaking process.

The main sulphite added during the actual production/fermentation process is sulphur dioxide (220).

Although some sulphur dioxide is produced naturally by the yeast during fermentation, a small amount is added to every wine batch under the level permitted under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards code.

Basically all of wines would contain an amount of added sulphur dioxide as well as any naturally occurring sulphur dioxide typically of the range of around 60-80ppm total sulphur dioxide. These levels naturally drop over time.

Some wines are labelled with the word 'sulphites' to advise consumers that the wine contains sulphur dioxide (220) and possibly potassium metabisulphite (224) rather than listing one or the other or both.

Information and recommendation provided by Dieter L. - useNature - Editor


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