Questions and Answers about Sulfites in Wine
Are Sulfites Added to Frey Wines?
No, but they may occur naturally in small amounts. See below.
What are sulfites?
Public attention recently has been directed to the use of sulfites as a food preservative. For many years it was a common practice to add sulfites to wine as a protection against oxidation and bacterial spoilage. In addition, small amounts of sulfites can be naturally present in wine and other foods, since the abundant element of sulfur takes many forms as a part of all living things. When used in winemaking, manufactured sulfites are added as sulfur salts or sulfur dioxide solutions to the juice before fermentation until bottling. Unfortunately, winemakers can be excessive in their use of sulfites, which has the effect of masking delicate flavors, assaulting the nose, and causing headaches and allergic reactions to those especially sensitive. However, modern winemaking equipment and sanitation make it possible to produce sound wines without such additives.
What happens when sulfites are added to wine?
Due to its reactive nature, most of the sulfite molecule joins with other substances in the wine. This part of the sulfite is called "bound" sulfite, and since it is bound up it usually can't be tasted or smelled, except at high levels. A smaller part of the sulfite molecule can't find anything to join and wanders freely through the wine, ready to bond with traces of air or other substances or organisms which can cause wine to go stale or spoil. It is this "free" sulfite which has a strong preservative effect in the wine and can be more easily smelled and tasted or cause a sulfite reaction.
How are sulfites measured?
For most measurements, the bound and free sulfite fractions are added together to get what is called the "total" sulfite level in the wine. Since sulfites are a powerful preservative, they are added to wine in small amounts and are measured in " parts per million", abbreviated "ppm". Although the legal limit in wine is 350 ppm, most wines with added sulfites contain less, generally 25-150 ppm. According to federal law, if a wine contains 10 ppm or more of total sulfites, the label must state "contains sulfites".
What about naturally occurring sulfites in Frey Wines?
Many foods, including wine, may contain small amounts of naturally occurring sulfites, almost always in the bound form. For example, an egg tested at an independent wine laboratory showed 6 ppm total sulfites. Our experience has shown that naturally occurring sulfites are present in some of our wines in small amounts, but in some cases no sulfites were detected. In making wines without added sulfites, we've found that red wines and older white wines contain the lowest levels of naturally occurring sulfites (none detected or under 5 ppm), while young white wines may occasionally show levels from 5 to 15 ppm.
What are Organic Wines?
Under the new USDA National Organic Program, Frey wines are Organic Wines because they are made from certified organic grapes and contain no additives, such as sulfites or tartaric acid. Wineries that use organic grapes, but add sulfites or other additives can only be labeled “Made with organically grown grapes.”
Are Frey Wines acceptable to vegans?
Yes, as no animal products are used in the making of Frey Wines, such as egg whites, gelatin, or dairy-derived substances. Bentonite clay is the only processing aid used, as a fining agent for the white wines.