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Do products that claim to remove preservatives from wine really work?


Our local bottle shop sells a potion alleged to be able to remove the preservatives and other chemicals from wine that can cause headaches. Does it work?
M.F., Southport, Queensland

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I’m aware of two such products: SO2GO and Purewine. They comprise, very simply, a small vial of hydrogen peroxide which you spray or drip into your glass of vino. A few drops will dissipate most sulphur dioxide, which some people believe affects them adversely. The main complaints I hear are headache, sneezing, coughing, sinus issues, rashes and facial flushing.

Sulphur dioxide is the key preservative used in wines, red and white alike, and the only one targeted by these products to my knowledge.

Because white wine is more vulnerable to oxidation than red, you’ll find preservative-free wines are mostly red.

Not being one who suffers from any allergic reactions to wine, I can’t vouch for the effectiveness of these products, although I have tested them. I do agree that, as claimed, they don’t change the aroma or taste of the wine. However, other people who believe they suffer allergic reactions to wine tell me these products do absolutely work for them; indeed, several swear by them. And if used as directed, the dosage of hydrogen peroxide is perfectly safe.

Wine gets blamed for a lot of things it probably doesn’t deserve. It can’t defend itself, of course, so some mud sticks, but it’s very likely that some of the complaints attributed to wine preservatives are misdiagnosed. Some foods, which also contain sulphites, should also be considered.


Assuming, though, there’s some fire where there’s smoke, I note that there are many “no added preservative” wines on the market. These include Yangarra PF Shiraz, Battle of Bosworth Puritan Shiraz, Kalleske Zeitgeist, Rosnay Freedom, and some of the Tamburlaine, Lowe, Temple Bruer, Botobolar and Macaw Creek offerings.

Sulphur dioxide is used in most wine to protect it against spoilage by oxidation and undesirable micro-organisms. Because white wine is more vulnerable to oxidation than red, you’ll find preservative-free wines are mostly red, and because they cannot be guaranteed not to age rapidly, wineries such as Battle of Bosworth recommend you drink them young and not cellar them.

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