Preservative free wine is wine that does not contain any sulphur (or sulfur) dioxide (SO₂) which is the preservative used in wine. Sulphur dioxide helps to protect wine from spoilage by bacteria and oxidation.
Are all organic and biodynamic wines preservative free?
A number of organic and biodynamic wines are preservative free but not all organic and biodynamic wines are preservative free. However, in Australia, organic and biodynamic wine does contain minimal sulphur dioxide to comply with Australian organic standards.
How do I know if a wine is preservative free?
Look for ‘Contains sulphites’ or ‘Preservative 220’ on the label – this indicates the use of sulphur dioxide.
Though a conventional wine (i.e. a wine that is not organic or biodynamic) may be preservative free, it is likely that it still contains harmful chemical pesticides, fungicides or herbicides.
Sulphur dioxide is evident in the bouquet and palette of a wine, especially if the winemaker has been a little heavy handed with it. This is not a good thing. Sulphur dioxide does not have a pleasant smell or taste!
Does white wine contain more sulphur?
Yes. Red wine is lower in sulphur dioxide than white wine as it is higher in alcohol and as it contains tannins – they are both a natural preservative. It’s easier to make a preservative free red wine than a preservative free white wine for this reason – there’s less effort/change required to get a preservative free red wine “right”.
Is preservative free better for you?
No. However, exposure to sulphur dioxide could be a problem if you are sensitive to it i.e. if you have asthma, sulfite sensitivity or a sulfite allergy.
I heard you don’t get a hangover if you drink preservative free wine. Is that true?
That sounds like something a dodgy salesman peddled. There’s no scientific evidence to verify that claim. If you are drinking wine in volumes that may result in a hangover then you would be well advised to drink less! However, many people do say that they get a headache when they drink even one glass of conventional wine but that they don’t get a headache when they drink organic wine. This is most likely explained by the absence of harmful chemical pesticides, fungicides or herbicides.
At The Organic Wine Cellar we have an amazing array of certified organic, biodynamic and preservative free wines from Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy and Spain. We don’t sell any wine that is not certified organic or biodynamic and we have over 50 wines that are also preservative free. To make it easy, we include the words ‘PRESERVATIVE FREE’ in the title of any wine that does not contain any sulphites. You can shop by preservative free by expanding the Shop menu at the top of our Home Page and clicking ‘PRESERVATIVE FREE’ on the right or by clicking the ‘PRESERVATIVE FREE’ menu icon on our Home Page.
First published 20/9/2014