I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say “I usually only drink French wine because it doesn’t have any sulfites so I don’t get headaches from it”. Two myths contained in just one sentence!
Myth #1: French wine doesn’t have sulfites. Actually, sulfites occur naturally in wine – they’re a by-product of the fermentation, so all wines contain at least a few parts per million. But bumping up the sulfur level during winemaking goes back for centuries, which means it was done by Europeans (and still is). They were the first ones smart enough to figure out that the wine tastes a lot better if you add just a tiny amount as a preservative. Without it the wine fades and loses its fruit rather quickly. Folks tend to think that only Americans add sulfites because up to quite recently we had a warning label requirement that the Europeans didn’t. Today, finally, we’re on a level playing field in that regard.
Myth #2: Sulfites cause headaches. If you’re getting a headache from wine, unless you’re an asthmatic it’s unlikely that sulfur is to blame. Numerous studies have been inconclusive about the cause of wine headaches but they’ve eliminated sulfur as the culprit. I know – some of you don’t believe it, studies or no! If that’s you, you might try eating some brightly colored dried fruit. The vibrant color attests to a very high sulfur level compared to wine. If it doesn’t give you a headache you can cross sulfites off your list. In fact, there are lots of foods that contain sulfites like jams and jellies, canned and frozen vegetables, processed cheese… More information