Sulfites in wine

May 4, 2007
168
0
Northern California
#1
Yo, Bloof,

Not knowing any more about the subject than I do, I accept all that you said regarding sulfites as being correct. I didn't think the thread regarding Gin drinks in the summertime was the proper place to respond to that information, however, hence this new thread.

If, as you say, these sulfites occur in all wines naturally then 'splain to me please why I can drink a ton of Valpolicella, Montepulciano, or even good ol' Chianti without ever getting as headache. Even the homemade wines my cousins in Italy make or the cheap French bordeaux doesn't produce a headache.

But give me a glass or two of a California red wine and I've got a splitter even before I finish that second glass. Why do you suppose that is?

Please don't misunderstand. I'm not trying to be argumentive. I just don't understand why that is. Is there something other than sulfites that's causing the headaches? If so, what might it be? What is it that American wine producers do or put in their wines, red ones particularly, that the Italians and the French don't put in theirs? Something that could cause headaches.

I'd really like to know the answer to that.
 
Sep 27, 2003
8,798
0
Puerto Rico/NYC
#2
I'm going from memory of the report that Morley Safer did about 20-25 years ago, and the subsequent labeling changes that occurred. My information could be incomplete, and I could also be quoting/remembering incorrectly. I know people in the restaurant business with a broad knowledge of wine, so I'll try to get some feedback on this subject, as well as update my own research and get back to this thread.
 
Jul 13, 2006
23
0
Pittsburgh, PA
#3
OK...so I am not a doctor....but as I tell the women at the bars...I play one at night. 8)

There is another factor to consider if certain red wines cause problems..... Are you allergic to eggs? I learned this while being vegan for part of my life. Many red wines are clarified using egg whites. And apparently there can be enough left behind to cause a reaction. (Trust me....I had a perfectly wonderful date with a perfect woman RUINED by her severe reaction....if only I would have remembered this to warn her ahead of time....) :cry:

Probably not the problem, but thought I would mention this as a public service......
 
Apr 2, 2007
83
0
#4
Sulfites in Wine.

Sulfites kill yeast ! Yeasts that turn sugar into alcohol and yeasts that turn alcohol into vinegar.
Yeast can tolerate alcohol concentrations up to about 20 % then they die in there own waste. Some yeasts die earlier than others.
So the big enemy of wine makers is wild yeasts. So guess what all the equipment is sterized with - Sulfates.
So what do you do when you have a batch of wine fermenting and your daily check of the specific gravity says that the alcohol concentration is about 11 - 13 %. You didn't use a yeast that dies at 12 % (if one exists). You add a little bit of Sulfites to kill the yeast. This gives you a wine that still has enough sweetness to be drinkagle, enough alcohol for the desired effect and gets rid of the vinegar yeasts. All wines have sulfates except maybe for the ones that the old Italians make in the cellars that have enough alcohol to sterilize Hospital tools.

Cyclist is correct for "Old World Wines" the whites of eggs are used as a clarifing agent. Most "New World Wines"filter or use some other mechanical process to clarify.

The Old Blond headed naked Bourbon Tester is very correct. Sulfates are very, very bad for him and other that suffer from the big "A".
 
Sep 27, 2003
8,798
0
Puerto Rico/NYC
#5
Heyyyyyyy, how did you know I'm sitting at my computer naked right now?!?!?!?!???

Wait a second, whenever I'm at the computer, I AM naked. It's like one of those mathematical equations, "if-then" thingys, hee, hee, heee!!!

Duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

Virginny Gemmin is not only almost as old as Vince, but a world traveler, a very stand up guy, and one who has knowledge on many subjects. While I intend to do that additional research to update my own knowledge base, I would take whatever he says as though it came from an encyclopedia. When Virginny Gemmin speaks, he doles out a plethora of knowledge on whatever subject he's speaking about. If he doesn't know something, he won't pretend.
 
May 4, 2007
168
0
Northern California
#6
Two thoughts come to mind. First, If VaGentleman is almost as old as Vince and Vince thinks I'm a really old fart, then both o'them dudes are still wet behind the ears, relatively speaking. This is not to say that I give no credence to the info they pass along. As I said before, there's a helluva lot that I don't know, regardless of how old I am.

Secondly, with regard to sulfites, if they're not the 'headache culprits' then the question still stands.... what causes the headaches? And primarily from California reds. Occasionally a California white will do it to me but not all that often. And I've never suffered from asthma nor have I any bothersome allergies.

And, from my viewpoint, it's too bad that the Yuppies, GenXers, and most other johnny-come-latelies have influenced wine tastes and varieties the way they have. I prefer a nice, dry white wine. My all time favorite was Chablis. It can still be found but only with a good deal of looking and even then it's mostly in screw-top gallon jugs.

Seems like today if it isn't Chardonnay, White Zin, etc. it doesn't rate space on the shelf. And it seems like they keep inventing new varieties with yuppie-sounding names faster than we old farts can learn to pronounce 'em. Ah, for the good old days. Well, enough of this. It's rapidly approaching toddy-time here in sunny California so I think I'll go fix me a tall, cool one or three.

Later, Dudes.
 
Sep 27, 2003
8,798
0
Puerto Rico/NYC
#7
Hmmmmm, I'm about to have a two shot tasting of "Baby Saz" myself, as with temperatures in the 60's here, and due to go down in to the 50's tonight, it's still bourbon/rye season in these parts. As for Vince and Virginny Gemmin, they're about ohhhhhhhhhh, . . .

625-650 if memory serves me correctly. Mere youngsters compared to guys like Noah and Jared, but still up there a bit. It's sounding like you're more in the 750-800 range, JL. Enjoy those toddys, and we'll keep the light on for ya!!!
 
May 4, 2007
168
0
Northern California
#8
Wow!! 50's and 60's. Oh, if only.....

It was 102 here yesterday. When you mentioned the temp's in your area I thought maybe Astoria was in upstate NY but the map says you're right close to Manhattan Island so guess I was wrong.

Anyway, my better half and I were in that neck of the woods last fall. We flew in to Providence, RI, had lunch at the Union Oyster House in Boston, and then spent the next week or so wandering around Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont being leaf-peepers. That's pretty country.

I had another thought about those nasty sulfites. I was looking at some bottles of various California wines in the supermarket the other day and noticed the labels said "sulfites added" on some or all of them.

So, here's my thought. If, as VaGentleman says, sulfites occur naturally in wine and then the winemaker adds more for whatever purpose, you'd then have an unnatural amount of the little devils in there. Is it possible that the EXCESS amount of 'em is what does it??

Just a thought.

We'll be out-of-pocket until late Sunday so I'll check back in then.
 
Sep 27, 2003
8,798
0
Puerto Rico/NYC
#9
Yes, certainly to the levels of something. I'll give you an example. If you put me and 99 other people in a room, subway car or some area that has air quality which is poor, I will be the first to detect it. Two or three others will detect it within ten to fifteen seconds after me, and many people will not detect it, unless it's impossible for humans to survive there, or not be bothered by it, even if they notice something not quite right. I will probably be attempting to leave as soon as I detect it, two or three others will do so when they detect it, and a few dozen may actually be able to stand it. I observed this in a crowded subway car two or three years ago. It definitely has to do with amounts of certain agents.

As for Astoria, it is a neighborhood in Queens, one of the five boroughs of NYC.
 
Sep 27, 2003
8,798
0
Puerto Rico/NYC
#10
May 4, 2007
168
0
Northern California
#11
Whoa!! There's some good info there. I'm particularly impressed with the link to the UC Davis page. It tells it like it is, i.e., it ain't the sulfites causing the headaches and nobody seems to know what IS doing it.

And, over the weekend we visited the Stockton/Lodi area of California. While we were there, we took a side trip to a small town called Lockeford where there's a place called the Vino Piazza. Various wineries have shops there and wine-tasting is the order of the day.

At one of the winery's shops we tasted a few and I asked about sulfites occurring naturally and/or added sulfites, etc. The nice lady there explained that their winery strived (strove?) to achieve the status of 'organic winery' and only lost out because once a year they used "Roundup" to kill off weeds before that year's crop got started and they were disqualified because of that. They didn't apply extra sulfur dioxide as some wineries do and which would tend to increase the sulfites in those grapes.

I found that interesting but not as interesting as the info you supplied, Bloof, particularly from UC Davis. I should add that we bought a few bottles from this lady and, even though I prefer the older varietals, their white zin tasted particularly good as did their merlot.

Anyway, thanks muchly for the info and the effort you expended to provide it. I appreciate it. Maybe one of these days they'll figure out what actually IS causing the headaches.

Later, Dude.
 
Sep 27, 2003
8,798
0
Puerto Rico/NYC
#12
Didn't the UC Davis information site provide a link to some medical web site that did tell about, or at least speculate on the substances causing the headaches? I remember reading about those other substances, and there being some sort of ambiguity concerning what they were and the exact effects. I didn't go to the medical web site contained within the UC Davis link, but I thought it might provide some answers, which was why I placed that one first. I thought it to be the most informative and reliable one, and then I placed the others in what also seemed to be a reliable order of importance.

Very interesting subject, I must say, all things considered. I learned some valuable stuff myself, even though I eschew wine these days. I just never took to wine, although I must admit that in my years during my second marriage, I tasted quite a lot of good wine. My second wife spent a quarter century in the restaurant business, and focused on wine as her area of expertise.
 
Oct 4, 2004
787
0
#13
Well, I am not sure what does it , but I do have some ideas.

I have made more wine, from all different fruits and other things, than many people can imagine. I have been to "wine country" many times. We order our grapes from the same places that many high-end wineries do. One thing that everyone forgets is that many wineries add all kinds of stuff other than grapes to their wine. Various fining products, including egg white and isenglass. They also add glycerine, potassium sorbate, vitamin C, and sugar and other things. There are few wines that are just grapes and yeast.

BTW, sulfites are in everything. I use them. In moderate amounts you will not notice them.
 
May 4, 2007
168
0
Northern California
#14
And, based on what Bloofington said, above, evidently they've been getting a bum rap for quite a while with regard to those damned red-wine headaches. I'm learning that they're not the culprit....only trouble is, nobody sems to know what the culprit really IS.

A guy would think that with as many people complaining about the headaches the California wineries would get together and run a study to find out what the hell is causing 'em. And another thought occurs to me - - Do red wines from other states affect folks like the California reds do?

There's gotta be something in these reds that there isn't in the Italian and French reds. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to drink as much of them as I can and not get a headache.

HHMmmmm! Makes a guy wonder......
 
Oct 4, 2004
787
0
#15
Remember, just because it's a "California Red" doesn't mean it was made with California grapes or only grapes. My "Ohio Red" was made with Dry Creek and Paso Robles grapes trucked in from Cali. There are way too many variables to consider.
 
Sep 27, 2003
8,798
0
Puerto Rico/NYC
#16
Maybe as the California grapes grow, they begin to groan under the weight of liberalism. They release a chemical that when agitated by the wine making process, is left in fairly high concentrations in the finished product.

BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHAHAHAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

Sorry, but because this thread has long since reached its informative apex, I figured no harm done.
 
Nov 24, 2005
3,438
0
#17
SHHHHH ! It's that secret liquid "Essence of Limousin French Oak".

You see -

That's why the super premium Grown, Produced and Bottled By "____________" - i.e. - "Estate" wines are at a premium $$$. They actually age in the oak cooperage.

It costs a small fortune transferring / storing / cellaring / ageing wines in temp. controlled warehouses . . . . in individual 55 gal barrels . . . . That's typically used for the primo burgundian whites i.e. - Pinot Blanc - Chards etc.

"If" a winery doesen't have that type of investment (and they shouldn't) for a primary labeling ($10 - $15 Chard appelation "California") . . . Then they can and do resort to stuff like this
I don't know with specificity . . . at this time, however - the winery that I worked at - an approx. 400,000 case / year sized outfit had some very friendly lab staff and believe me ! . . . consumers aren't exactly informed of exact contents . . . particularly with "negeociant" wines that are . . . unfortunately, the majority of "fine wines" today.
Example - If the label says "Cellared and Bottled by" - "Made and Bottled By" - "Vinted and Bottled by" - the wine in that bottle . . . IIRC - up to 75 % of it anyway . . . is bulk bought from other wineries . . it may be tasty . . .but there's no tellin' what additive(s) are included.

The "headache with the whites thing" could possibility be from the residual acidity . . . As an experiment (if you like them) Try a "produced and bottled by" riesling or something w/ about 1 - 1.75 residual sugar . . . not sweet wines by any stretch . . but not Sauv Blanc dry ha ha . . either. :wine:

Ahhh ! Those memories . . . the cellar draw samples, the 6 & 8 course meals, the VIP tours, the LOVELY LADIES ! [Grin], the library wines !, the Methode Champenoise Sparkers and even the partner's daughter (Hi Heather !) + vineyards :lol: :bolt:
 
May 4, 2007
168
0
Northern California
#18
Speaking of storage - - there's a place in the town of Lockeford, CA called the "Vino Piazza" or the "Wine Piazza" (I forget) where certain wineries hold tastings . If you get there when there's some sort of 'event' going on, there'll probably be live music, food vendors, etc.

But the point I'm slowly getting to is that the 'buildings' there used to be 40,000 gallon storage tanks for, yep, vino. They're no longer used for storage so now they've cut windows and doors into these concrete tanks, partitioned them off this way and that, and now, in addition to the wineries tasting rooms there's a pretty decent Thai restaurant among other things.

My wife and I had lunch there and got to talking with the owner who told us about the previous use of these 'buildings'. He showed us what used to be large drain plugs in the walls down near the floor and pointed out the red/brown stains here and there - - wine stains, he said.

Everything he said made sense to me. The places where the windows and doors were cut you could see that the concrete was about 18 inches thick - as it would have to be to withstand the pressure from 40,000 gallons of wine.

His wife is Thai and was the cook. Believe me, if you ever visit there, be sure to try the Thai food. It was wonderful.
 
Nov 24, 2005
3,438
0
#19
I remember the days (about 15 years ago . . . seems like yesterday :cry: ) the assigned winery staff (myself included) would give beginning / intermediate / advanced wine classes at this old - old leased facility, a couple of miles away from the parent winery. Said stone cellar "featured" dirt floors and all ha ha ! . . . at any rate, it was interesting touring that place w/ the students before tastings !

Some of the Redwood cooperage was 43,000 gallon redwood tanks !
Very long vertical strips approx 12' high ! Amazing when there was an actual "craft of cooper" ! :wink:

We'd have to have the class walk up narrow wooden creaky staircasings and we'd gather on a mezzanine type platform . . . and draw out the tasty early eighty something Petite Sirah . . . .Ahhh wonderful !

Too bad they could do nothing but sell it off in bulk to who knows which jug entity ! Carlo Rossi / Gallo . . ?

:cry: :cry: :cry:

:wink:
 

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