I’ll Meet You Down the Road

Photo of wine glass shattering #1 Wine Myth
Shattering the #1 Wine Myth

I’ve been a contributor to My LA Lifestyle, since its inception in 2011, which was visualized, imagined, created and helmed by Laura Pardini. It has been a challenge and a joy to research, taste, test (the cocktail and food recipes), and create these posts each month. I’m grateful for the support, comments, and interaction I’ve had with all of you who have subscribed and/or seen my posts on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

My LA Lifestyle is closing with this post. I’m not going away,  I’m moving down the road to my brand new podcast (follow me for more information on its premiere) Instagram and Facebook pages and on our splashpros.com website, where it is my hope that you’ll continue to subscribe and join me in our taste community.  This you can do by whipping out an email to me: stacie@splashpros.com.  I will make sure you receive my posts and columns for my contributions/byline with the other publications in wine and food.  For those of you who are part of Share A Glass, we are starting up again in September and so eager to see you all! Again, for more information, email me at: stacie@splashpros.com

And with that, here goes with the #1 Wine Myth You Probably Still Believe:

The #1 Wine Myth!

The #1 Wine Myth you probably still believe is that red wine goes with meat and white with fish. Yeah. No. The #1 Wine Myth you probably still believe is: Sulfites in wine can cause headaches and allergic reactions. And, here’s another: White wine is lower in sulfites than red.

Wrong. Today we shatter this myth once and for all.

First off, a little science

What’s a sulfite, anyway? Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is a compound chemical made up of sulfur (S) and oxygen (O). It’s both a natural occurrence and can also be created. What’s it good for? Preserving freshness, by acting as both an antioxidant (that’s a good thing) and an antimicrobial.  Fact: Less than one percent of us are actually allergic to SO2.

Romans and other ancient societies used SO2 for the production of wine to preserve wine from spoiling. Today, in the same way, winemakers are using SO2 to preserve freshness and flavor in wine.

Wine pouring into a fermentation tank
Winemakers can add sulfites for preserving freshness.

Laws surround the amounts of sulfite in wine by dictating how much can be added.  If a winemaker adds more than 10 parts per million (ppm) of SO2, the law requires that the label state “contains sulfites”.  These laws vary globally, for example, the US allows 350ppm, while the EU  maximum allowable is set at 210ppm.

Sulfites are allowable and present in much higher amounts than wine in many foods we happily consume:  dried fruits, sodas, potato, and other chips, candies, bacon, processed and deli meats and canned or convenience (packaged) foods and soups.  Yet, there isn’t much talk about headaches after a corned beef sandwich.

Foods that contain a high amount of sulfites.
Foods high in sulfites include dried fruit, bacon, chips, sodas, and candy.

Okay, so what about Natural or Organically Made Wine?

A bottle with an organic wine label.
Carefully read wine labels for information.

Sulfites are naturally occurring in the fermentation process of winemaking even before a winemaker considers adding.  A wine that is labeled “Organic” or “Bio-Dynamic” cannot have any added sulfites, but these wines do contain sulfites, naturally, as a part of the fermentation process.  The amount varies between 10-50 ppm.  A careful reading of the wine label is helpful as you may see that the wine is made from “organic grapes” – this is different than organic winemaking.  If a wine is “organically made” it can contain up to 100ppm.

Natural wines are produced without adding or removing anything in the winemaking process, although some winemakers do add tiny amounts of sulfites for preservation.  These wines enjoyed best young, and not made for cellaring and aging.

Bottom line

The infamous headache experienced when drinking red wine is not from sulfites!  In fact, white wine has an even higher count of sulfites.  The likely culprit is the naturally occurring histamines from the grape skin or tannins which come from the skins, pits, and stems, and tyramine another naturally occurring chemical found in fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, etc) and aged cheese. Or, ahem….the alcohol itself.

Ah, the alcohol. Ever notice when traveling to Italy or France it seems you can drink red wine without getting a headache? One reason may be that the alcohol levels in wines from the EU are traditionally a bit lower than domestic wines. This is because the terroir and the winemaking styles differ. However, in the last decade wines from the US are drastically dropping in alcohol levels making them much more fitting as a beverage enjoyed with food – something the rest of the world learned long ago.

Alfresco dining with wine to enhance the meal.
Wine can enhance food flavors and the enjoyment of a meal.

A Few Tips

Dryer wines with higher acidity will be lower in sulfites than sweet or dessert wines.  Look on the label for lower alcohol content in European red wines and dry white wines.  Look for:  Red wines from Burgundy, Beaujolais, Pays d’Oc, Loire Valley, Tuscany, Marche, Sardegna, Sicily.  Domestically, from Sonoma and Oregon.  Your local wine shop and wine apps are invaluable guides for your enjoyment of the wines of summer.

Until We Meet Down the Road, Let’s Share A Glass together with this Easy-Peasy Sparkly Summer Wine Cocktail, The Figurati

In Italian, Figurati is used to express a few things.  Here is the definition often used after someone says, “Thank you”.  To that, the answer “Figurati” means, “Don’t Worry About It”.  That’s how easy it is to create this wine cocktail! The base of this fizzer is the low alcohol Lambrusco wine from the Lombardia region of Italy.  Its gentle mousse of bubbles plays on your tongue and the color of this red grape, Lambrusco, is simply beautiful.  The fruity sweetness of the Lambrusco is tempered by the addition of Cappelletti Aperitivo, a slightly bitter, orange-citrus, anise taste, and a generous squeeze of lemon.   Courtesy of Nathan Elliot of Il Solito in Portland, Oregon.

The Figurati Wine Cocktail

Recipe:

  • 4 ounces Lambrusco, chilled
  • 1 ounce Cappelletti aperitivo, chilled
  • 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • Garnish: Lemon Slice and lemon twist

Prep:

  1. Add all ingredients into a Champagne flute, stirring gently to combine.  Squeeze the lemon slice into the drink and curl the lemon twist, over the glass, to express the oil from the lemon, then place the twist on the rim to garnish. Figurati!”  And, “Don’t worry about it”, see you soon!

Follow me on Instagram and Facebook and email me to subscribe:  stacie@splashpros.com

Author:  Stacie Hunt, Certified Silver Pin Sommelier (AIS, WSA)

Photo credits:  Courtesy, Vinfolio.com, Nutrition.com, GoItaly.com, Il Solito.com

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