Sulphites / SO2 in wine, Low Sulphur Wine

Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is the most widely used and controversial additive in winemaking. It's used as an antiseptic (to kill off unwanted moulds, bacteria and yeasts) and as an antioxidant (to inhibit oxygen spoiling the wine).

Sulphur derivatives or sulphites occur in 99.9% of all wines in varying amounts, and it's now law to include a 'contains sulphites' advice on all wine labels where there's over 10 parts per million in the wine. Up to this level and sometimes above, it's produced naturally by yeasts as a by product of the fermentation process itself.

An increasing number of people see avoiding additives as a stepping stone towards health improvement, but don’t always realise where and how these ‘additives’ can pop up in food and drink. Sulphur can cause adverse reactions in people, and sometimes quite severe such as headaches, wheeziness, flushing and perhaps even a sense of ‘hangover’ the next morning, even if only a moderate amount of wine has been consumed.

Compared on average to conventional wines, all certified organic and biodynamic wines contain lower levels of sulphites. Maximum permitted levels are set lower by some 25-50% depending on residual sugar levels.

To help customers with a really ‘low sulphur’ choice, last year we introduced a ‘LS’ or’ Low Sulphur Added’ category in the Wine List for all wines which use 50% or less of their maximum allowed dosage for organic. (75 mg/litre or less for whites and rosés and 50 mg/litre or less for reds)

For those people (and it seems to be an increasing number) that prefer to avoid sulphites altogether, there’s a growing number (we reject many) of top quality wines now available. These are in the lowest of the low category and are denoted by ‘NS’ in our list for ‘No Sulphur Added’.

Below is the selection of NS wines we currently stock. We truly think they deserve your attention.

We do get lots of enquiries about low sulphur wines, and to help further we've decided to give symbols to all our wines which have very low sulphur and no added sulphur at all. Symbols explained below, and you can now easily search for these low sulphur wines.

Low Sulphur Wine Low Sulphur Added From the low initial 'organic status' level, we've taken wines which use only 50% of that or less to be in this category. (75mg/litre or less for whites and rosé and 50mg/litre for reds).
Buy Low Sulphur Wines
No Sulphur Added No Sulphur Added These are the wines with the lowest sulphur levels you will find anywhere. None at all is added, though tiny amounts can be produced as a natural by-product of the fermentation process.
Buy No Added Sulphur Wines
No Sulphur Added Six Case   
These days with better hygiene, and new techniques spurred on by an increasing demand, it is easier to make low sulphur wine. Still rare, it takes skill and courage to do so, but the resulting totally unsullied, living wine can be a revelation. These types of wine, when also fermented using only natural yeasts and hand harvested grapes are often also called Natural Wines. (NB – not all ‘Natural wines’ are certified organic however)..