Wine Photo Credit: Western Living

Okanagan Wine School Lesson #5: What Are Sulphites (and Do They Give Me a Headache)?

Turns out, the natural by-product isn’t the root cause of your hangover.

Oh brother—this is a big one. Spend any time talking about wine and someone will invariably say, “Sulphites in wine give me headaches.” While this may be true for slightly less than one percent of the population (according to the FDA), the reality is that most drinkers are far more likely to get a headache from the tannins or histamines in wine than from the sulphites. Or, dare we say it, the alcohol. Our friend, sommelier Kieran Fanning of Grapes and Soda, points out that dried fruit routinely has 10 times the amount of sulphites than most wine does. And while we’re debunking myths, white wine usually has more sulphites than red. So what exactly are they? They’re a catch-all term for the presence of sulphur dioxide (SO₂), which is both a natural by-product of the fermentation process and something routinely added to wine to aid in preservation. So while it’s tricky to avoid the former, avoiding the latter can be done by sourcing a “natural” wine, like Haywire’s absolutely fresh and exquisitely juicy Free Form ($35), which adds zero sulphur as a preservative.

Haywire Free Form, $35

 

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