Sulphur Preservatives in Wine
by Michael Bond
Why do some wine makers use preservative 224 and some use 220. Is there any technical difference or is it local or personal choice?Darby Says
Sulphur additives in wine
The most common preservatives used in wine are 220 sulphur dioxide (used as a gas) and 224 potassium metabisulphite auseda as a solution. Both have two effects. They reduce the possibility of spoilage of the wine by wild yeast and bacteria and they stop the wine from oxidising.
All wine contains some sulphur say about 10 parts per million. About 250 ppm can be added in the winemaking process, depending on the philosophy of the winemaker.
People's ability to perceive sulphur in wine and their reaction to sulphur varies greatly. Asthmatics are paticularly sensitive.
In my view many Australian wines have too much sulphur. Our wines need more help with added preservatives and antioxidants than say French or Italian wines because our wines are lower in acid. Ripe fruit from warmer vineyards have lower natural acids.
Back in the old days when we bottles bulk wine in the backyard we used the metabisulphite to sterilise the bottles, probalby on the rough old aussie rhubric of "if a little bit is good, more is better." Perhaps that's why we had some nasty hangovers.
I'm not sure of the reasons why winemakers use 220 rather than 224, I just wish that they'd be more careful.
Maybe some winemakers can chime in to this discussion by leaving a comment.
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