Fight Wine Headache: Revisiting Sulfites

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An earlier post on The Wine Dudes blog dealt with sulfites in wine. I pointed out that they’re often blamed for the malady known as “wine headache,” which affects a certain percentage of drinkers. This complaint persists despite the fact that there is no sound medical research linking wine’s sulfites to headaches.

Despite this lack of evidence, wine consumers continue to perceive sulfites in a negative light, most likely because labels specifically note that the wine “contains sulfites.” An online study by Chris Appleby in Wines & Vines, finds that 34 percent of survey respondents report suffering headaches after moderate wine consumption. Sixty-three percent attribute their wine headache to sulfites and are willing to pay a price premium for a sulfite-free wine.

Those who have a marked sensitivity to sulfites, primarily those with asthma, may suffer itchy hives and wheezing, even shortness of breath and severe chest constriction. Sensitive individuals react to unbound, or free, sulfites.

A Newport Beach company founded by Jean Ishihara, Just the Wine, LLC, now offers a drop called Just the Wine that reduces the unbound sulfites by up to 80 percent with three drops. Used in low amounts, the drops do not affect the wine’s flavor, and the unbound sulfites are nullified. I’m not sensitive to sulfites, but I tried the product in the recommended dosage and it did not affect the taste of the wine.

Since all wines are different and contain varying amounts of sulfites, the amount of reduction varies. For most wines, three drops in a standard 6-ounce serving, or 13 drops in a 750 ml bottle, will work. The product has been developed and tested with multiple wines to establish representative ranges of sulfites pre and post application.

The concentration level of the active agent, hydrogen peroxide, is within the acceptable limits of many over-the-counter products available for oral use.

Just the Wine drops are available for $5.95 plus tax and shipping at JusttheWine.com. More information and detailed descriptions are available on the website.

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