WHAT ARE SULFITES?
Sulfites are a preservative added to food and wine. In conventional wine making, it is common practice to add sulfites to wine as a protection against oxidation and bacterial spoilage. With modern winemaking equipment, sanitation and mastering the skill of organic wine making, it is more than possible to produce quality fine wines without chemical additives. Sulfites can be naturally present in small amounts in wine and other foods since the abundant element sulfur takes many forms as a part of all living things. When used in winemaking, manufactured sulfites are added as the chemical preservative sulfur dioxide solutions to the juice before fermentation and up until bottling. Sulfite addition by winemakers can be excessive, masking delicate flavors, assaulting the nose, and even causing headaches and allergic reactions in those people especially sensitive to sulfites. All LaRocca Vineyards wines have No Sulfites Added.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SULFITES ARE ADDED TO WINE?
Due to its reactive nature, most of the sulfites join with other substances in the wine. This part of the sulfite is called “bound” sulfite. Parts of the sulfite can’t find anything to join and wanders freely through the wine, ready to bond with bits of air or other substances or organisms which can cause wine to go stale or spoil. It is this “free” sulfite which has a strong preservative effect in the wine and can be more easily smelled and tasted or causes a sulfite reaction.
HOW ARE SULFITES MEASURED?
For most measurements, the bound and free sulfite fractions are added together to get what is called the “total” sulfite level in wine. Since sulfites are a powerful preservative, they are added to wine in small amounts and are measured in “parts per million,” abbreviated “ppm.” The Legal limit in wine is 350ppm. According to federal law, if a wine contains 10ppm or more of total sulfites, the label must state “contains sulfites” (usually found hidden on the back label somewhere). U.S. organic wines, like LaRocca Vineyards, can NOT have sulfites added, and therefore, are under 10ppm and do not require sulfite labeling. LaRocca’s labels state “no sulfites added” or “no sulfites detected” in order to inform the customer that they are getting the purest wine with no chemical additives and no chance for adverse reactions.
WHAT ABOUT NATUALLY OCCURRING SULFITES?
Many foods, including wine, may contain small amounts of naturally occurring sulfites, almost always in the bound form. For example, an egg tested at an independent wine laboratory showed 6ppm total sulfites in the egg white. In wine, our experience has shown that naturally occurring sulfites are present in some wines in small amounts, but not in all. Every vintage of LaRocca wines are tested for sulfite levels. When the test come back with none, we label “no sulfites detected” if there are small amounts tested (natural occurring only), under 10ppm, then the our labels read “no sulfites added”
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT ORGANIC WINE LABELINGS?
U.S. “Organic Wines,” can NOT contain added sulfites. To label wines ORGANIC, you must be certified organic, use 100% organic grapes and cannot have any synthetic additives, no preservative, Sulfur Dioxide.
Wines “Made with Organic Grapes” are wines that have been certified by and organic certifier that assures the customer that the wine is made with organic grapes. However, these wines have added sulfites and are not a certified organic wine. Currently, the United States Organic Wine Standards are the highest standards in the world. LaRocca Vineyards wines are proud to bear the USDA Organic Seal on our front label, showing our customers our wines are superior in quality and truly organic.