Italyabroad.com brings to the UK the first wine completely sulphite-free, accordingly to the chemical analysis performed by an Italian laboratory, the wine does not contain any traces of SO2. The wine is the 2007 Merlot
There are two sources of sulphites for the wine: one is natural and the other one, in the form of sulphur dioxide (SO2), is added during the wine process. Natural sulphites are naturally produced during the fermentation of the wine whilst the added sulphites are added to the wine to protect it from unwanted oxidations and are important for the conservation of the wine. SO2 is considered to be harmless at the levels typically found in wine, but when the quantity of SO2 is higher or in case of asthmatics or allergics, can create problems and give headaches. It is worth mentioning that sulphites are not only present in wine, plenty of food and other beverages contains them, specifically all those that mention in the ingredients list codes between E220 and E228.
So, whilst sulphites can not be added, the only way to reduce the natural sulphites is to carefully select the grapes and the yeast and limit the contact of the wine with oxygen during the fermentation. Giulio Coceani, winemaker of the Coceani Winery explain how, Giulio says to make a sulphite free wine we follow a different process. First of all, we only leave very few bunches on the vine, only the healthiest. We then harvest the grapes, manual harvest to pick only the best grapes, and we do another selection of the grapes in the winery. We then press the grapes using a mechanical press to keep the skins intact, very slowly, advancing a couple of millimetres every hour because this process allows us to preserve the skins extracting only the best of the must. Then the must is fermented using its own yeast and moved to a special tank.
One of the main problems for sulphite-free wine is the conservation and protection of the wine. It is worth mentioning that oxygenating the wine before drinking it, simply swirling the wine in the glass, release about 40% of the SO2 present in the wine and if there is too much SO2 in the wine, it smells of sulphur, similar to a match just lighted, when just opened.