It’s easy to understand why sulfite additions are such a basic tool of winemaking. Sulfur dioxide (SO2, also commonly referred to as sulfites) is an effective antibacterial and antioxidant agent in wine, and sulfur-based products are also effective against fungal diseases and other pests in the vineyard.
However, using sulfites is far from neutral: they have wide-ranging effects on the chemistry of wine. Just to name a few issues, they can cause potential reductive issues and affect fruity aromatics, they can cause color bleaching, and they’re also irritating for workers who deal with fairly high amounts during winemaking operations. Also, beyond the often-exaggerated concerns about headaches and other issues for wine drinkers, the trend towards natural wine has given them a bad rap.
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