Sulfites have a bad rap. They’re blamed for the splitting headache you get after one or two glasses of wine...and the foggy hangover you wake up with the next day. But is vino really the culprit? (Hint: No—it’s a common misconception that we’ll clarify in a sec.) Here’s what you need to know about these compounds, plus a few of our favorite low-sulfite wines to add to your cart ASAP.
11 Wines We Love That Have No Added Sulfites
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What Are Sulfites?
Sulfites are naturally occurring compounds that are a product of fermentation. All wines have some sulfites since they’re made with yeast, but many winemakers add extra sulfites to their vintages as a preservative and to prevent bacterial growth. So, while it’s impossible to buy wine that’s totally sulfite-free, low-sulfite wines do exist.
If you’d like to avoid them, look for bottles that say “no sulfites added” on the label, or hunt down organic wines, which are required to be made from organically grown grapes and without added sulfites. (Just be sure to drink them in a timely fashion, since they don’t age well...but we doubt we had to tell you that.)
What Are the Side Effects of Sulfites?
Contrary to popular belief, sulfites do not cause headaches. Those who are sensitive to sulfites may experience asthma-like symptoms when they consume foods or drinks that contain them. Sulfite sensitivity is also much more likely in people who already have asthma. (According to the FDA, an estimated 1 percent of the population is actually sulfite sensitive, and about 5 percent of that group has asthma as well.) Rarely, sulfites can cause anaphylaxis in people who are allergic, says the Cleveland Clinic. Those who are sulfite-sensitive may experience symptoms that range from mild wheezing to a serious asthmatic reaction, likely due to the inhalation of sulfur dioxide that happens while they eat or drink.
Are Sulfites Bad for You?
Additional sulfites aren’t a problem for most people. That crushing hangover you’re experiencing is likely caused by dehydration, not sulfites. If you can eat foods that contain sulfites (like some jams, canned veggies, frozen shrimp and dried fruit) without any issues, odds are you don’t have a sulfite sensitivity. But if you are sensitive to sulfites, stick to low-sulfite wines.
11 Low-Sulfite Wines to Add to Your Rack
This pick is made with California grapes from Castoro Cellars’ first organic vineyard. Rich with a dark berry nose and lush mouthfeel, this gluten-free, vegan wine is intense enough to hold its own against beef, steak and rich desserts. Its flavor is spicy, oaky and fruity, making it ideal for sipping alongside cheese, burgers or chocolate.
Thanks to a price cut by Wine Library, this Italian blend is a total steal. It’s a Tuscan-style pick made from mostly Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. It's smoky, spicy and fruity with the essences of licorice, peppercorns and black-skinned berries in every sip. Try it slightly chilled with ribs, fries or pizza.
Looking for something everyone at your table will be happy with? Try this organic Italian gem on for size. This crisp, acidic pick is floral, bright and bursting with citrusy flavor. Serve it cold with sushi or Thai food, or drink it alfresco with grilled chicken or shellfish.
Meet Winc’s clean line of vinos that launched in 2020, the Wonderful Wine Co. More importantly though, meet their silky, round Argentinian red that’s begging for a spot at your dinner table. Made from sustainably farmed organic grapes, it has notes of dark fruit that are just right for occasional red drinkers, and it pairs beautifully with barbecue or lamb. Try it in The Red Pack or The Starter Pack, which also includes the brand’s white and orange varieties.
Get in, we’re going to Galicia. Whether you’re sipping this crisp, fruity blend made from organic grapes at brunch with a fruit plate or at dinner with steamed mussels, this vegan Avaline vino’s fresh finish and notes of pear and citrus are sure to shine through. Did we mention it’s free of added sugar, colors and concentrates?
This white table wine from Frey Vineyards in California is made with a blend of Butte County Chenin Blanc and Mendocino Chardonnay grapes, resulting in a medium-bodied, acidic sipper for the books. Crisp, soft and dry, this wine allows you to savor notes of melon and pear between bites of chicken or shrimp.
Taryn Pire is PureWow’s associate food editor. A former bartender and barista, she’s been writing about all things delicious since 2016, developing recipes, reviewing restaurants and investigating food trends at Food52, New Jersey Family Magazine and Taste Talks. When she isn’t testing TikTok’s latest viral recipe, she’s having popcorn for dinner and posting about it on Instagram @cookingwithpire.