The One Ingredient You Don't Want To Be In The Wine You're Drinking

If you've ever checked the back label on a bottle of wine, you may have noticed that some wines contain sulfites. Also known as sulfur dioxide, sulfites are chemical compounds and preservatives that naturally occur in a variety of different foods. Sulfites are used by winemakers to help minimize oxidation in wine, which can help preserve the flavor and keep it fresh (via Eat This, Not That). While sulfites aren't dangerous, winemakers are required to notify consumers that a bottle of wine is made with sulfites if it contains more than 10 parts per million.

That's because some people are sensitive or allergic to sulfites. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (via the American Academy of Pediatrics), 1% of the population is sensitive to the compound, particularly those who have severe asthma. While research is limited, sulfites may also cause or increase headaches in some people. So far, only 1 study measuring the impact of sulfites on headaches has been conducted. Published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2019, the study found that drinking wine with sulfites increased the risk of headaches among participants who were already prone to headaches.

How to reduce your sulfite intake

If you have a sensitivity to sulfites or are worried about getting headaches, you can limit your consumption by drinking wines with low sulfite levels. According to The Spruce Eats, organic wines are a pretty safe option. That's because they're made without the addition of any chemicals. If organic wines are too pricy for your budget, you can opt for dry, red wines, which contain the lowest sulfite level of non-organic wines. Dry, white wines, however, are a close second.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, sweet, semi-sweet, and blush wines tend to have the highest sulfite content. If you're concerned about your sulfite intake, you might want to stay away from sweet wines. However, wine isn't the only food or beverage that contains sulfites. Jams, canned vegetables, and dried fruits also tend to have sulfites added to them to help keep them fresh and extend their shelf life. If you're worried about your sulfite consumption, you might want to check the list of ingredients on these types of foods as well.