Sulfites policy at Pacific Rim

Sulfites are sometimes a hot topic, somewhat taboo. I thought I would bring my two cents about what what they are and what we do to minimize our sulfite content at Pacific Rim. Sulfites (read sulphur dioxide if your are a chemist) are used in wines as an antioxidant and as a anti-microorganism – we have residual sugar and malic acid in all our Rieslings which can respectively be degraded by yeasts and bacteria resulting in a stincky cloudy wine with lots of carbonation (lots as if the bottle could explode) – no good. We don’t want any of that so we use a bit of sulfites. Now sulfites is a fairly common preservative used in juices, dry fruit, etc. and . So why is that important? Like everything we eat, sulfites can be the cause of allergies with wine lovers. In all honesty, many more people have allergies to alcohol than sulfites and blame sulfites for the next morning hangover (yes, you did it, you know you did). I happen to have a mild allergy to sulfites and often will feel bad after one glass of heavily sulfited wine, so this is a serious issue for me. At Pacific Rim, we have tried to reduce our sulfite content greatly over the past few years and I was reminded of this lately after  reviewing the results from some analysis we have sent for an export client. DISCLOSURE: we are blessed with low sulfites needs due to the combination of screwcap closures (low oxygen intake in the bottle = low risk of oxidation), sterile fitration at bottling (low risk of microorganism contamination) and natural low pH in Riesling (Sulfites are exponentially more active at low pH) and we naturally need less sulfites in our wines than most winery do. We usually add less than 100mg/L sulfites total for any given wines because this maximum level of sulfites respects the Demeter (Biodynamic) and Organic requirements in the USA. This is about 2.5 times lower than the legal limit. Timing wise, we usually add some at harvest and then a little bit before bottling. Now just FYI, yeasts naturally produce about 20mg/L of sulfites, so we could have 4 to 5 times the natural content in our wines. The wines that I have sent for analysis (Chenin, Dry Riesling, Wallula Single Vineyard, Framboise, Vin De Glaciere) all came below 75 mg/L actually. Those amounts of sulfites are so low that we often have issues with some export market because those levels are below what they judge reasonable. We disagree with those folks respectfully, less sulfites makes for healthier wines and healthier people. Low sulfites policy at Pacific Rim.

2 Responses to “Sulfites policy at Pacific Rim”

  1. linda buck Says:

    I am allergic to sulfites and had given up on wines. I tried one of your Reslings and am happy to report no bad effects. Congrats.

  2. Nicolas Says:

    Thank you Luciouslinda. I am not a big fan of sulfites myself, so we try to be very very light handed on the dose. Normally we are at about 80ppm total sulfites (just FYI).


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