Winos: No Sulfites in Italian Wine?

Old Jan 4th, 2005, 03:58 PM
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Winos: No Sulfites in Italian Wine?

I heard that sulfites are added to Italian and maybe other imported wines to the USA. Is this why the wine in Italy does not give me a headache or a hangover like it can here?

Do even small wineries add sulfites before shipping? I don't know how this can be possible. Anyone know for sure? This trip I am going to ship alot back that is for sure.
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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 05:23 PM
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Sulfites are a natural byproduct of wine making. In large jug wine making as in the US additional sulfites may be added. Shipping wines is a loss leader at any rate.
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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 05:55 PM
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Hi SeaUrchin, interesting thread. My SIL, born and raised in Rome does not drink wine here in CA, even wine imported from Italy. It gives him a terrible headache too. Growing up in Rome the wine never bothered him.

I will be interested in others answers, but know without a doubt that your problem
is not in your imagination.

\

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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 06:03 PM
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I, too, get a headache and feel like I've been drugged on half a GLASS of any wine I drink in the US.

Let me first say that I will not pretend to be a wine expert. I will just relate what I've been told by people who represent themselves to me as wine experts...one of them being a cardiologist of Italian descent.

The explanation that I have been given is that US LAW requires a certain amount of sulfites be added to ALL wines sold in the USA...regardless of their country of origin...as a kind of preservative.

However, other countries do not have these same laws. Therefore, wines served in those countries usually will not contain any extra sulfites which might be added during processing.

In addition, the wines in Italy are usually "fresher"....not sitting on the shelf for long periods of time. The restaurants are much closer to the wineries.

On our first trip to Italy, at dinner on the first evening I drank half the BOTTLE by myself and did not feel the usual ill effects. I was convinced that the wine had been "watered down" by the restaurant.

The next night...at a different restaurant...the same thing. I could not imagine that all the restaurants in Italy were "watering down" the wine.

For our visit to Tuscany I had hired a private guide for one day and I asked him about this since his family had owned small wineries for generations.
This was the explanation he gave me.

Later, when we returned to the USA, this story was confirmed to me by others.

I know there are some folks who have other theories. But this is MY story and I'm sticking to it.

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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 06:05 PM
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Please note: I posted the post at 9:55pm to answer SeaUrchin's thread.

The next post re: Bruce Chatwin, which shows as my post in NOT MINE.

Fodor's is a problem again!! Do not know what is going on, but very irritating to have a post showing I posted when I did NOT.
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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 06:07 PM
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Ok, guess Fodors got the posts on this thread corrected, so ignore my last post.
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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 06:23 PM
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Excerpts from the following website:

http://waterhouse.ucdavis.edu/winecomp/so2.htm

There are many erroneous ideas about sulfites.

All wines contain sulfites. Yeast naturally produce sulfites during fermentation.

No other country requires a sulfite warning label, except the U.S., but virtually all winemakers add sulfites, including those in France, Italy, Spain, Australia, Chile, etc, so, the wine you drink in foreign countries contains sulfites, but you just are not being warned about it.

Sulfites do not cause headaches. There is something in red wine that causes headaches, but the cause has not yet been discovered.

Many people seem to connect their headache with the sulfite warning label, but sorry there is no connection.

I use sulfites in my wine, and have no problem and no headaches.
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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 06:36 PM
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Hi, Budman: Thank you for that information.

First of all, I think that some people are more sensitive to sulfites. Not everyone will have the same reaction. Most people won't have any reaction at all.

But I've heard many stories from people who say they can drink wine in Europe with none of the ill effects they feel when drinking wine in the USA.

So there has to be SOME explanation!

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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 06:39 PM
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All wines contain sulfites naturally. They are a by-product of fermentation. About 1 in 100 persons may have a sensitivity, not allergy, to sulfites. There is no such thing as wines that contain no sulfites, or sulfite-free wines. Grape skins not only host the yeast that ferments grapes into wine, they also contain vinegar bacteria that can spoil new wine. Sulfites (sulfur dioxide and its salts) helps to prevent the spoilage, and it inhibits the growth of molds and bacteria, curtail oxidation (browning), and also preserve flavor.

Getting a headache after drinking wine is usually the result of three factors: sulfites, amines, or overindulgence. Many people incorrectly blame sulfites for their wine headaches. If your headaches are severe only when you drink red wine, you can rule out sulfites as the culprit. Many highly-processed foods have had sulfites added to them (pickles, dried fruit) and, contrary to popular opinion, white wines contain even more than reds.

There are less sulfites used in wine production today than at any other time in history. Better technology, equipment, and sanitation practices all contribute to less bacterial spoilage, and therefore less need for adding sulfites.

To this day, there has yet to be found a better way to keep wine from spoiling than the use of sulfite.




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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 06:46 PM
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This same debate (about sulfites being added to wine) occurred on the Slowtalk forum a few months ago. The writers who knew most about wine and winemaking seemed to agree that some sulfites are produced naturally by fermentation, and that virtually all winemakers (in the US and around the world)add sulfites as a preservative. The consensus was that US winemakers, because they have to place a warning label on the bottle when the sulfites exceed a certain level, are more conservative with sulfite use, and that the amount of sulfites is disproportional to the cost of the wine (i.e., the cheaper the wine, the more sulfites it is likely to contain.) I'm convinced that wine tastes better in Italy because you're in Italy when you drink it. If you brought te same wine home tothe US, you'd be a little disappointed.
Here's the link:
http://slowtalk.com/eve/ubb.x?a=tpc&...11#20210444411
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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 10:39 PM
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Verrry confusing. I drink wine at lunch and at dinner in France and in Italy and rarely feel the effects. I have to limit my glasses of wine here to no more than 2 at a time over a period of a week or I get a headache.

It is strange if they all have sulfites. I did ask at a winery in Italy if they added sulfites and they said no so I thought it was only exported wine that had it.

I'll look at slowtrav now, thanks for the input to this odd concern.
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Old Jan 5th, 2005, 03:27 AM
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Many U.S. wines are 'big' wines, as loved by Robert Parker, and have higher levels of alcohol than many European wines. The same is true of the majority of Australian wines and is starting to be the case with the increasing number of European wines made by flying winemakers to suit what is perceived to be the international taste.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 06:30 AM
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We are just back from Italy. I drink a good amount of wine when in the US. I drank far more in Italy, with no ill affects. Although many bottles listed the alcohol content as equal or greater to that in the US, we never felt the wine or had hangovers or headaches from it. Many a time in Tuscany, we split a bottle for lunch and went on touring with no ill effects. Doing that at home would necessitate a nap followed by a headache when we woke up. Wish we could have the same wine here in the states!!!!
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Old May 25th, 2008, 06:57 AM
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Dry red has the lowest level of sulfites, sweet white the highest -- reflecting the different levels of residual sugar of those types of wine.

Price or quality of wine is no contributing factor, though.
Most expensive "ice wine" (with the highest amount of residual sugar) needs the highest amount of sulfites (because that sugar is the food for bacteria and for unwanted fermentation).

How much of a hangover you will experience is more a matter of the quality of wine, whether you drink it late at night without food, or with a hearty fat lunch, etc.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 07:07 AM
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Wines in Italy definitely contain sulfites. I would be surprised if it is not added to wine which is intended for longer storage (i.e. better quality fuller bodied wine) as it prevents spoilage. As for headaches, perhaps you should try fuller/lesser bodied wine and see the difference
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Old May 25th, 2008, 07:12 AM
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I, too, am amazed at how much I can drink in Italy/France with no ill effects. When we've gone in winter we tend to stay over dinner for <i>hours </i>and have, on occasion, had 2 bottles of wine (for two!). Not only do I not get drunk, there's no headache and no hangover.

If it's not the sulfites, maybe it has to do with all the walking? We'll walk 12-15 miles a day (4 times what we do at home). Might that have anything to do with it?
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Old May 25th, 2008, 10:03 AM
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I don't know that I have anything to add here. Plus I see this thread was started 3 years ago but....I have always assumed that the reason I can drink so much more when I travel is that I'm just pre-disposed to staying on my feet in the afternoon and getting up early. I tend to drink way more wine when I travel and I never have a hangover though here 2 glasses of red and I'll have a headache in the morning for sure. I thought it was just me.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 12:36 PM
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My old question! is still a mystery to me. I can polish off a bottle at lunch in France or Italy and just feel slightly buzzed. If I did that at home I would be a wreck for the rest of the day.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 06:33 AM
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&quot;Slightly buzzed&quot; is different from a headache. So which are you talking about. And &quot;buzzed&quot; will depend on the amount of alcohol in the wine --different types have more alcohol so that makes a difference.
As I said at the very beginning and others reiterated, sulfites are IN wine. JUG wines (less expensive wines) in the US may have extra added.
AND some people DO get migraine headaches from the sulfites in wine, and the nitrates/nitrites in things like lunch meats.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 10:10 AM
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There is a slight misconception, about where the sulfites come from.
A minor part of the sulfite level results from natural fermentation - between 10-30mg/liter.
Yet, that is not enough for making the wine last many years.
The major chunk of sulfites is ADDED after fermentation - from up to 160mg/liter for a dry Red, and up to 400mg/liter for a heavyweight White.

In the EU, wines did not have to identify sulfites on the label until 2005. The US started much earlier to mandate labeling. So you still find many older Europeans wines with no &quot;sulfite warning&quot;. That does not mean, though, that they do not contain sulfites.
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