Printer Friendly

Wines and sulfites: a necessary marriage.

Wines and sulfites: A necessary marriage

For years, winemakers have relied on sulfur dioxide toprevent oxidation and the growth of microorganisms in their valuable grape nectars. Today the treatment is used on just about all wines, worldwide, according to University of California at Davis enologist Cornelius S. Ough. But concern in recent years over life-threatening reactions to these preservatives by some asthmatics has led many people to question whether sulfiting agents like sulfure dioxide are absolutely necessary (SN: 12/13/86, p. 374). Now, in the March/April JOURNAL OF FOOD SCIENCE, Ough and Edward A. Crowell conclude that there's no way a decent wine can avoid them.

The Davis researchers made 60 batches of wine from eighttypes of university-grown grapes -- evertyhing from white riesling to cabernet sauvignon. One-third of the prefermented juice from these grapes was treated with sulfur dioxide, another third with nitrogen to prevent oxidation and a final third with aeration -- to deliberately promote oxidation. Half the wine made from each of these juices was then treated with sulfur dioxide before bottling.

A year later, samples of the wine made from each were servedto a panel of skilled tasters and evaluated. According to the researchers, the judges found "wines with no sulfure dioxide treatments were definitely inferior in quality." Ough says they tended to be an unattractive brown in color, carried an oxidized "acrylic-like" aroma and had an "off" taste. The best wines resulted from sulfur dioxide treatment of both the prefermented juice and wine, though treatment of just the wine was often enough to salvage an otherwise objectionable batch of oxidized juice. Even use of sulfur dioxide in the juice only -- prior to winemaking -- was better than none, though Ough notes that such early treatment "tends to be fairly ineffective as an antioxidant and preservative."

Though vintners today tend to use as little sulfur dioxide asthey can get away with, Ough says, the role of their antioxidant will be assuming increased visibility. A new federal rule requires that all alcoholic beverages bottled after July 9, including wines, must be labeled as having sulfites if they contain more than 10 parts per million of the preservative.
COPYRIGHT 1987 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 27, 1987
Previous Article:Safe supinity.
Next Article:Why carrots may reduce cholesterol.

Related Articles
FDA to ban sulfites from fresh produce.
Sulfite suit victorious.
Warning labels for drugs with sulfites.
Sulfite drug warnings.
Heavy lead found in some French red wine.
Some simple field tests for use in food inspections.
Fruit of the vine: a surging organic industry delivers natural wine - without the headaches.
Wine 101: holiday wine pairing with wine hostess Kristine Albright.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters