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Dear Dr. Vinny,
On a recent trip to Italy, I purchased a few bottles of red wine. Without the preservatives that are typically used in our U.S. wines, what is the expected shelf life of this Italian wine?
—Buddy G., Kennesaw, Ga.
There are no preservatives added to U.S wines that aren’t also found in European wines. What’s different is the labeling laws: In the U.S., the label must say “contains sulfites” on the label, but that's not required if the exact same is sold in Italy.
Sulfites are a naturally occurring byproduct of fermentation (and found in many other consumables, from dried apricots to molasses). Many winemakers also add additional sulfites to help keep wines stable. Those sulfites are present in wines from all over the world. There’s no difference in how long a wine will age—it still depends on your personal wine preferences, what kind of aging potential the wine has, and what kind of cellaring set up you have at home.
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