Good question and one that we get asked a lot. Sulfites are naturally occurring compounds found in all wines, whether they are made conventionally or naturally. They are a byproduct of the fermentation process and can also be found in some of the materials used during wine production, such as barrels and corks. While natural winemakers typically use little to no added sulfites, it's important to note that sulfites are still present in these wines, albeit in lower amounts than in conventionally made wines. To give some ballpark figures; a conventional white wine typically contains 100-150 milligrams of added sulfites. The natural occurring sulfites, however, range from 0-20 milligrams. When we, at ASOP Wines, speak of a natural wine, generally no more sulfur has been added than 35 milligrams per liter.
It's also important to note that in the European Union, all wines must be labeled with the words "contains sulfites" regardless of whether sulfites were added during the winemaking process or not. This means that even natural wines with minimal added sulfites must carry this label. While some people may be sensitive to sulfites and experience allergic reactions, the majority of people can still enjoy natural wines without any problems.
Despite the presence of sulfites in all wines, natural winemakers still choose to use minimal intervention techniques and limit the use of added sulfites. They believe that this allows the true expression of the grape and terroir to shine through in the wine. So, if you're looking for a wine that is made with minimal intervention and allows the true flavors and character of the grapes to come through, natural wine is a great option. Just be aware that all wines contain sulfites and that this information is required to be on the label in the European Union.