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Sulphites in Wine - a common question!

25 Jan 2017 2 Comments

We get a lot of questions about the use of sulphur in wine, mainly along the lines of “Is there any sulphur in your wines?” and “Why is there sulphur in your wines?” So I thought I might take a little time to explain the role of sulphur in wine and when we need it.

Firstly, there is always sulphur in wine, even in wines that claim to be sulphur-free. This is because the yeast that convert the sugar from grapes into alcohol produce small amounts of sulphur as a by-product.

Sulphites are used for both their anti-microbial and anti-oxidant properties. I don’t want to get too technical here, so I will simply say that sulphites scavenge oxygen to help keep wines fresh both during production and when in bottle. The anti-microbial action is a little more complicated. The effect here depends on the pH of the wine, which is a measure of the acidity. The lower the pH of the wine, the less sulphites are required to protect the wine, as sulphites are more active at lower pHs.

So what wines have the least amount of sulphites? Here are my general tips to avoid sulphites in wines:

Drink red and bottle fermented sparkling wine

Red wines will generally have less sulphites than white wines as red wines are protected somewhat by their tannins. Traditional method sparkling wines cannot have high levels of sulphites due to the requirement of undertaking a secondary fermentation in bottle. Sulphites would prevent this from occurring if too high, so these wines are generally low in sulphites (a small addition may be made during the disgorging process).

Drink wines that are dry

Sweeter wines generally need higher levels of sulphites to prevent bacteria or yeast from metabolising them.

Drink wines from cooler regions

Well, this is very convenient news for us Tasmanians.  Wines from our State, generally speaking, have the lowest pHs in the country due to our cooler climate. So we in theory should need less sulphites in our wines to achieve the same level of protection as wines from other regions that have higher pHs.

Drink wines from high quality producers

Yes, this usually means that the wines are more expensive. However, fruit that arrives at the winery from the vineyard in excellent condition needs less or no intervention.  Good producers also understand the science of wine, and know exactly how much sulphites a given wine needs for the type of wine it is.

Now for the kicker... the sulphites in wine are not really a big deal. No, they do not give you headaches, and no, you are not allergic to them. Sulphites cannot provoke an immune response, which is required for something to be an allergy. Moreover, the levels present in most wines are not even worth discussing from a health perspective.

It is possible that you are sensitive to sulphites (believed to be approximately 1% of the population), and to some people this is a serious condition. However, this manifests itself in ways more similar to asthma with symptoms such as wheezing, chest tightness and coughing. It is more than likely that you would have discovered your sensitivity to sulphites well before wine due to the comparatively small amounts in wine compared to other regular food and drinks. For example, at Josef Chromy nearly every white wine ever produced here has had under 150ppm total sulphur dioxide, and nearly every red wine has had under 100ppm total sulphur dioxide. French fries contain around 1900ppm! We have even produced wines that classify as preservative free (<20ppm).

So if sulphites aren't the villain...?

Now that we have determined that sulphites are not the villain, what is it in wine that can give you those big headaches, congestion, and feeling like you have been hit by a truck? Well, the answer is most likely biogenic amines. These substances do provoke immune responses.

A winemaking process called malolactic fermentation is a common source of amines. I won’t delve too far into the details, but all red wines go through this process, as do many Chardonnays and sparkling wines. Aromatic whites such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris are unlikely to have undertaken this process.

So straight away you can see the problem here. People are avoiding white wines, which they rightly believe have more sulphites, to avoid getting a headache.  We now know this is not caused by sulphites. However, the red wines they are changing to contain high levels of these biogenic amines, which are more likely to be a cause of their headaches.

For those that love to read:

http://mastervintner.com/blog/lies-damned-lies-and-sulfites-the-facts/

There are other reasons for experiencing a headache after drinking wine. However, what I can say for certain, is that it is not the sulphites!

*PS don’t waste your money on tablets or drops that you can put into wines that claim to remove the sulphites and reduce your headaches. As you are now aware, sulphites don’t cause headaches to begin with, and equally importantly, these products don’t even work. What they are adding is hydrogen peroxide (H202) - the same hydrogen peroxide that is a bleaching agent, disinfectant and oxidiser. The hydrogen peroxide does indeed react with the free sulphites and removes them, but after a short period of time, the wine re-equilibriates and releases more free sulphites from the bound sulphites in the wine, so you are back to where you started. You can keep on adding hydrogen peroxide until there is no sulphite left, but every time you make an addition, you will also be ruining the wine by oxidising all the flavours and stripping the wine of all aromatics.

Thanks for reading!

- Winemaker Stew

Chef Hat

10 Jan 2017 0 Comments

Our Josef Chromy Wines Restaurant is chuffed at being awarded a CHEF HAT in the 2017 Australian Good Food & Travel Guide. We were also awarded the 2016 READERS CHOICE Award for Vineyard Restaurants. Come see and taste for yourself - book NOW

Full Australian Good Food & Travel Guide 2017 winners list HERE

Winners & Hall of Fame

08 Nov 2016 0 Comments

We are proud winners of the Tourism Restaurant & Catering Services and Tourism Wineries, Distilleries & Breweries Award from the Tasmanian Tourism Awards Night. We also made it into the Hall of Fame for winning Tourism Restaurant & Catering Services Award for the third consective year.

Well done team, keep up the amazing work.

Tasmanian Tourism Award  Tasmanian Tourism Award  Tasmanian Tourism Award

 

 

Vegan-friendly wines

08 Sep 2016 2 Comments

There are a number of winemaking products derived from animals, including dairy, egg and fish products. These are winemaking aids rather than ingredients, but traces may remain in the finished product.

Over the past two years, Josef Chromy Wines have used a new means of clarifying some wines that involves a very small amount of gelatine (30-40 ppm), but yields massive savings in energy use. This means most of our aromatic whites are not vegan-friendly. Trials are underway with plant-derived gels instead of gelatine, but have been unsatisfactory so far.

Our Chardonnay doesn't go through this process, but in some years we use casein (milk product), and this rules out those particular vintages too.

Our Pinot Noirs - Pepik, Josef Chromy and Zdar - are vegan-friendly year in, year out.

The following current release wines ARE vegan-friendly: 

2015 Pepik Pinot Noir

2015 Josef Chromy Pinot Noir

2015 Josef Chromy Chardonnay

2015 Josef Chromy Fume Blanc

2010 Josef Chromy Vintage Sparkling

Josef Chromy Ruby Pinot (port)

2012 Zdar Chardonnay

2012 Zdar Pinot Noir

2005 Zdar Sparkling

2014 Josef Chromy Merlot

 

New Museum Wine Room

20 Jul 2016 0 Comments

A new Museum Wine Room is being set up at cellar door and is presently being stocked with Josef Chromy Wines back vintages. Wines dating back to our earliest vintages are being included, although very limited quantities will be available for sale. Guests will be invited to peruse the collection to select a bottle to enjoy with lunch in our restaurant. The Museum Wine Room will also provide an intimate location for small group wine tastings, with an adjacent room also offering opportunities for private dining and small meetings.We look forward to offering small parcels of Museum Wines for sale to our Gold Wine Club Members in the near future.

2016 Good Food and Wine Shows

18 Jul 2016 0 Comments

Josef Chromy Wines was a popular destination for patrons at the Melbourne Good Food and Wine Show on the first weekend of June. As usual, Dave was hiding a few bottles of the ZDAR Pinot Noir behind the counter for tasting by those in the know!  If you missed out in Melbourne, Josef Chromy Wines will be at the Sydney Good Food and Wine Show on 5-7 August. Remember, behind the counter...

 

Vin Diemen Tassie showcase coming to Sydney & Melbourne

14 Jul 2016 0 Comments

VIN Diemen 2016 Melbourne & Sydney

The VIN Diemen showcase of premium Tasmanian wine, beverages, food and tourism offerings returns to Melbourne on Sunday 21 August and Sydney on Saturday 27 August. Josef Chromy Wines will be on hand along with other premium Tasmanian wine producers to show you what all the fuss over Tasmanian wine is about. Standby for special offers for our Josef Chromy Wines - Wine Club Members, and come along for a day of wine, food, and if 2015 is anything to go by, some great Tasmanian entertainment. Tickets on sale now!

For more informtaion and to book, please click HERE

 

3 Great Reasons to Wed in Winter

19 Jan 2016 0 Comments

When couples set a wedding date it is usually sometime from November through to March in Tasmania.

Interestingly winter weddings are starting to become more and more popular for a number of different reasons and we have come up with three great reasons why you should consider a winter wedding.

winter wedding

1. Ambience

With the nights drawing in, you can start your evening celebrations earlier, which means you have longer to enjoy it! Theme your venue and get the atmosphere going from the moment dusk sets in. You could use fairy lights to create a magical scene by placing them in the exterior trees and use candles to light walkways outside and if your budget stretches to it.

2. Save Money

Choosing a winter wedding date gives you more bargaining power with your suppliers. Winter tends to be a less busy time of year so you will find more availability and suppliers are keen to negotiate. For example, Josef Chromy Wines offers you (if you book your wedding between May – September) complimentary room hire and complimentary ceremony, valued at $2,000.00.

3. More Availability

If you have set your heart on a venue or if you are getting married at fairly short notice you will find it much easier to get your dream venue in winter.

Hope you found these three great reasons to consider a winter wedding helpful and please share with us any of your own experiences.

ZDAR 2005 Sparkling

27 Nov 2015 winery, ZDAR 0 Comments

... it was 2005. It wasn’t that long ago, but seeing as everyone is getting excited about the new Star Wars movie, I thought we would jump on the bandwagon.

So what was happening in 2005? Well Saddam Hussein was still alive, there were some appalling riots in Cronulla, Hurricane Katrina led to devastation in New Orleans, one billion less people inhabited the Earth, iPhones did not exist, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston got divorced and John Farnham was in retirement.

2005 ZDAR SparklingIt was also the year that we bottled our 2005 Zdar Vintage Sparkling. So while the events of the past ten years have been going by (for better or for worse) this wine has been happily sitting in our cellars on lees under 7 bar of pressure, maturing and building toasty complexity, waiting to be unleashed on the world. You can read how these wines are made from our blog post back in October 2014 HERE.

Only 380 bottles of this wine have been made, and we don’t imagine they will be around for very long. The wine displays all the classic hallmarks of late disgorged sparkling wines. Toasty yeast complexity and a rich creamy palate, and with the vineyard’s signature citrus acidity running through the middle.

These are the wines that Tasmania excels at producing, as anyone who attended Effervescence 2015 could attest to.

We will be releasing the 2005 ZDAR Sparkling to our Gold and Silver Club Members first, and then available to all wine club members. If you are interested in purchasing please send us an email: info@josefchromy.com.au

Stewart Byrne, Winemaker

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