Can added sulfites in wine actually prevent headaches?

Friday, 24 December, 2021
Wine Spectator, Taylor McBride
New research finds that even small additions of the compound can eliminate molecules believed to cause adverse reactions to certain wines.

Why do certain wines give people headaches, even when consumed in moderation? Wine intolerance has long been a mystery and a nuisance for many wine lovers. For researchers, it's proven difficult to determine what exactly causes the symptoms, which can range from headaches to nausea to wheezing and even anaphylaxis. While studies have pointed to a few culprits, many consumers have blamed sulfur dioxide (SO2), or sulfites (the family of compounds that include SO2).

Some SO2 is produced naturally during fermentation. Many winemakers add some too, as a preservative that inhibits the growth of bacteria. For some wine lovers, being for or against added SO2 has become almost a religious stance. The rising popularity of low-intervention and natural wines has made the debate even more heated. Natural wine proponents point to no-added sulfites as a plus.

But multiple scientific studies have provided evidence that a set of naturally occurring molecules called biogenic amines (BA) are typically the cause of wine intolerance symptoms, not sulfites. And a new research paper by Sophie Parker-Thomson, a winemaker and Master of Wine, suggests that additions of SO2 could help reduce BA levels and lower the risk of wine intolerance symptoms. In proper quantities, sulfites might be the cure, rather than the cause.

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Can added sulfites in wine actually prevent headaches?
Can added sulfites in wine actually prevent headaches?

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