Health Q&A: Are Sulfites Dangerous?

Jun 14, 2007

Q: I'm a sommelier, and I was wondering whether sulfites in wine cause major health concerns? — Bruno

A: Sulfites, which are added to wines to prevent bacterial growth, are also found in products like dried fruit, baked goods and pickled foods. They cause allergic reactions in a very small percentage of the population. Most people who complain of headaches when drinking wine are reacting to other substances present in wine, such as alcohol. Those actually allergic to sulfites suffer from symptoms ranging from rashes to abdominal pain to breathing problems when exposed to sulfites. Because sulfites occur naturally in wine due to the fermentation process, they are present at some level in all wines. A few wines are made without added sulfites, but they are quite perishable. In the United States, wines that have more than 10 parts per million of sulfites must bear a label that says "contains sulfites."

Have a question about wine and healthy living? E-mail us.

Health Q & A

You Might Also Like

Does wine cause cavities?

Does wine cause cavities?

Although wine's acidic properties can be conducive to cavity development, dental experts …

Feb 19, 2020
Can moderate wine consumption prevent kidney stones from forming?

Can moderate wine consumption prevent kidney stones from forming?

Approximately 500,000 people visit critical care facilities for kidney stone issues …

Feb 5, 2020
Is mixing wine and coffee after dinner bad for my heart?

Is mixing wine and coffee after dinner bad for my heart?

Alcohol is a depressant and caffeine is a stimulant, but that doesn't mean that wine and …

Jan 22, 2020
Are

Are "natural" wines healthier?

Wine Spectator 's expert Dr. Vinny explains what natural wines are, and why some people …

Jan 8, 2020
What type of sparkling wine can I drink if I have diabetes?

What type of sparkling wine can I drink if I have diabetes?

Approximately 30 million Americans suffer from diabetes and wine can raise the blood …

Dec 19, 2019
Can a homemade wine be responsible for unpleasant physical symptoms?

Can a homemade wine be responsible for unpleasant physical symptoms?

Homemade wine, or any part of the winemaking process, may have the potential for unpleasant …

Nov 27, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search