5 Low-Sulfite Wines Experts Love

Sulfite allergies are rare and most prevalent in asthmatics. However, others have experienced the dreaded "red wine headache" after enjoying a single glass, pointing to sulfites as the cause. While histamines, alcohol, sugar, and tannins are possible culprits, myths about sulfites have made it the scapegoat, so many of us are looking for low-sulfite wine options to keep enjoying a glass (or two).

Sulfites are a natural byproduct of the fermentation process and are found in higher concentrations in dried fruits, dried vegetables, sodas, and pickled vegetables. All wines naturally contain sulfites, which prevent the wine from oxidizing and spoiling by killing unwanted yeast, bacteria, and fungi. Globally, the wine industry is highly regulated, requiring winemakers to label bottles with 'contains sulfites' when there are more than ten parts per million sulfur dioxide (SO2).

Bottles without that label do not mean they don't have sulfites, but rather 'no added sulfites' which is the case with organic or "natural' wines in the U.S. Generally, since red wine contains tannins that also preserve wine, white varieties contain more sulfites, so if you suspect a sensitivity you may want to stick with pinot, cabernet sauvignon, chianti, and other reds.

Searching for recommendations for low-sulfite wines, Food Republic contacted Vanessa De Silva, wine director at Point Seven, and asked for her expert opinion. De Silva provided five low-sulfite wines in an array of varieties to complement every meal. 

Rosi Schuster, 'Aus den Dorfern' Red

Produced in Burgenland, Austria, Rosi Schuster, 'Aus den Dorfern' is a red wine blend of Rotburger, Blaufrankisch, and St. Laurent grapes. This vineyard, now run by Rosi's son, Hannes Schuster, is organically farmed with a low amount of natural sulfites. Aus den Dorfern Red's grapes are harvested by hand and have a depth of flavor with notes of cherry, dark berries, and spice. It is 12% alcohol by volume (ABV). 

De Silva says this cuvee "isn't heavy on your palate and a great food wine." We suggest serving it slightly chilled with your meal. Rosi Schuster, 'Aus den Dorfern' Red retails for roughly $14.80.

Champagne Marguet, 'Les Crayeres' 2014

De Silva says Benoit Marguet is one of her favorite Champagne producers, and a visit to its tasting room "is like a pilgrimage." Made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, this full-bodied sparkling wine is from a single vineyard in Ambonnay, France, in the Montagne de Reims region. 

Bottled without added sulfur, Les Crayeres has apple, licorice, ginger, marzipan, and Meyer lemon notes with red fruit flavor like cranberry. Its high acidity and mineral finish pair well with food and make sure to serve it chilled. A bottle of Les Crayeres Champagne is a splurge and retails around $108.

Channing Daughters, 'Sylvanus Petillant Naurel'

Located on twenty-eight acres in Bridgehampton, New York, on the east end of Long Island, Channing Daughters is a small winery on the Atlantic Ocean. Winemaker James Christopher Tracy uses a traditional method called "Methode Ancestrale" to produce wine. His gentle approach hand-picks all the grapes, whole-cluster presses them, and bottles the wine after fermentation without adding SO2. Its sparkling wine is capped to allow continual fermentation to naturally produce carbon dioxide and its signature bubbles. 

Sylvanus Petillant Naurel is a sparkling blend of Pinot Grigio, Muscat Ottonel, and Pinot Bianco grapes with 10% ABV. Its aroma is floral, with the taste of melon and the ocean air. This rustic wine can be cloudy and contain sediment on the bottom of the bottle, but Tracy says that's part of its charm. 

De Silva points out that Channing Daughters also has a not-to-be-missed line of local herb and botanical-flavored vermouth. Only 100 cases of this variety were made. The winery retails this sparkling white for $29.00.

Le Rocher des Violettes, 'Chenin Orange'

Le Rocher des Violettes is located within the Loire Valley in the lieu-dit "Le Grand Poirier" in Montlouis, France. This orange wine is produced from 100% Chenin Blanc grapes with lots of texture, spice, and apricot notes, which De Silva calls "juicy and delicious." 

Fermented and aged in stainless steel barrels, this Chenin Orange variety is certified organic without additional sulfur added to the bottle. Serve this sweet wine chilled, and if you are looking to enjoy sparkling wine but don't want to spend a fortune, De Silva also recommends the vineyard's Montlouis-sur-Loire as an "everyday bubbly."

You can find Le Rocher des Violettes 'Chenin Orange' for around $40.99 at select liquor stores.

Frank Cornelissen, 'Munjebel' Rosso Terre Siciliane

Produced entirely from Nerello Mascalese grapes along the northern slopes of the active volcano, Mount Etna, Frank Cornelissen's 'Munjebel' Rosso Terre is a full-bodied red wine that's been compared to Burgundy's Côtes-de-Nuits and Piemonte's Barolos. Established in 2001, this organic Sicilian vineyard is 600 to 1,000 meters above sea level, producing unique varieties. 

Munjebel' Rosso Terre Siciliane has a "juicy fruit and wild earth taste," ripe with tannins but without adding sulfites. This wine should be stored below 60 degrees Fahrenheit since it has little preservatives to preserve its integrity in warmer temperatures. 

Enjoy this wine with red meat like beef and venison. Munjebel Rosso Terre Siciliane retails for about $50 on average.