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Wine

Preserving the truth on sulphates in wine

Recently, one of our members, Penny Bamford, got in touch to ask about preservative 220, which you might have seen listed on the back label of bottle of wine. She wanted to know whether it can cause allergic reactions and whether it’s used in organic and biodynamic wine.

Tasting Panellist Dave Mavor came to the rescue with an explanation.

The main preservative used in wine is sulphur dioxide, which you’ll see on the label as ‘preservative 220’, ‘minimal sulphur dioxide added’ or ‘contains sulphites’. Sulphur dioxide is added in the winemaking process to protect the wine from oxidation and bacterial spoilage.

I can tell you that the sulphur dioxide used in winemaking is less than many other products (e.g., dried fruits, some beer, meat, etc.) that we consume every day. It has been used as a preservative in wine since Roman times. And don’t be fooled into thinking that because preservatives aren’t listed on European wines that they’re not present, it’s just that they don’t have the same strict labelling laws as Australia. The amount of sulphur dioxide winemakers are allowed to add is strictly controlled to a limit of 250 milligrams per litre.

With such low levels it is unlikely to cause any health issues, however, some people feel they are quite sensitive to it. If that is you, here are some tips:

  • There tends to be higher levels of sulphur dioxide added to white wines as they are more susceptible to oxidation, whereas the tannins in red wines act as a natural preservative. If you have symptoms from drinking red wine, it’s more likely to be from the histamines.
  • Age also affects the sulphur dioxide levels in a wine, as it dissipates over time, so if you’re sensitive to sulphur dioxide, go for older wines.
  • There is less sulphur dioxide used in organic and biodynamic wines. Certification allows 50 per cent of what can be used under conventional standards.
  • Preservative-free wines don’t have sulphur dioxide added, however, it can also be a natural product of fermentation and is therefore often present even if it hasn’t been deliberately added. Also, without added preservatives, the wine will be very susceptible to spoilage by oxidation, so it needs to be consumed straightaway – which is not a bad thing.

You might have noticed the recent emergence of products that claim to remove the sulphur dioxide from your wine. Dave explains that these are simply made up of diluted hydrogen peroxide. While this is a chemical sometimes used in the winery when too much sulphur has been accidently added to a wine, it’s extremely controlled by winemakers with a thorough understanding of the chemical process. Remember that if you add too much hydrogen peroxide to a wine it will go off and you will have spoilt all the winemaker’s hard work!

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Words by Vintec on 4 Nov 2017
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So, where should you store your wine?  The best place is somewhere that has been specifically designed to accommodate the needs of your wines, like a cool natural underground cellar or a climate-controlled wine cabinet. A well-made wine cabinet replicates the conditions found in the best natural underground wine cellars by controlling humidity, temperature and UV light. While you may assume a wine cooler is a good alternative, unfortunately these generate intense blasts of cold air, creating large temperature fluctuations, and they remove ambient humidity, causing your corks to dry out. The most convenient option for wine lovers is a product specifically designed for your wines. Wine storage experts Vintec have developed a comprehensive range to suit all needs and requirements, offering wine cabinets with 20-bottle capacities right up to walk-in cellars for over 4000 bottles.  Their range includes something for all budgets and spaces, and is well worth the investment to protect your favourite drops. For more details on Vintec’s extensive wine storage range visit vintec.com.au
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The Essential Salad and Wine Matching Guide
Fresh flavour-filled salads to match your selection Celebrate fresh and flavourful salads perfect to serve in the warmer months! There’s no limit to what we can call a salad these days and the idea that it needs to be served cold is a distant memory. The best combination of ingredients is seasonally-driven and matched with a wine with the appropriate weight and texture. Red drinkers are not left out, but opt for a lighter, more aromatic variety served with warm salads that include meat. Don’t forget that the dressing is an important consideration, with the light and zesty styles best matched with lighter wines and the creamier options best paired with wines with a bit more weight and appealing acidity. Light and aromatic whites Trent Mannell loves whipping up a simple salad when friends drop by and the summer salad with asparagus and goat’s curd is a perfect choice. When it comes to wine matching, he explains, “While the beauty of this salad is its simplicity, it also includes quite strong flavours in the asparagus and goat’s curd. Offset them with a light, aromatic white like Sauvignon Blanc , Riesling or Vermentino .” Medium weight and textural whites Keith Tulloch loves his whites with texture and find rocket, pear and walnut salad with blue cheese dressing a perfect match for this style of wine. “With its beautiful textures, this salad needs a white wine match that’s full of texture too”, he says. “I recommend Pinot G, Fiano, Arneis or Marsanne.” Fuller bodied whites Entertaining a group can be stress free when you serve up a dish like King salmon with warm Romesco salad . This is one of Adam Walls’ go-to dishes and for a wine match, he says, “Salmon calls for a fuller-bodied white, as do the ingredients in the Romesco salad. I recommend a classic Chardonnay or Verdelho , or for something different, a Viognier or Roussanne .” Light to medium weight and savoury reds Red lovers don’t miss out when it comes to summer salads, and Dave Mavor loves adapting the classic match of duck and Pinot Noir for the warmer months with warm duck breast and cauliflower salad and his favourite Pinot. But, he explains, “You could also try Grenache & GSM blends , Nero d’Avola , Sangiovese or Tempranillo .”
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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