Monday, August 10, 2009


Hi Michel,

I read your article on sulfites with interest.
I recently drank a brand of white wine (Pinot Grigio) that I had never tried before (though I have tried several others). I had a severe allergic reaction - my tongue swelled and I had to be rushed to the emergency room.

There was no other change in my diet and I have never had an allergic reaction to anything before. Is it possible that brand has an unusually high sulfite content?

Hi John,

White wines in general contain more sulfites than reds because of the need to preserve color and freshness. Even organically grown contain around 80ppm (max 100 by law). However conventional wines have less restrictions and could go up to 160. It all depends on the bottling conditions and nothing except a chemical analysis will tell you the exact content. Also aside from the total sulfites content, it is the active part that is important because it is the one responsible for the chemical activity and therefore your own reaction. This is never mentioned so you could conceivably with the same amount of total sulfites for instance 100ppm have an active level of a few ppm up to 30 or 40ppm which would explain why one wine would not create any problem and an apparently similar one trigger a big reaction!
Not very reassuring for you I guess. However when one is sensitive to sulfites a high content is generally easy to spot thanks to the smell or by tasting a very tiny amount. Have you been aware of that?

Generally speaking if you have been able to drink most wines you should be completely safe with organically grown wines which have a maximum allowed content of 100ppm. For the past 30 years we have had countless customers satisfied with our products. Only extreme allergy sufferers need to stay away from anything having touched the allergen they are sensitive to.

Hi Dr. Mic,

Thanks for the information.
I *did* notice that the wine tasted "funny."

I never had a reaction before and I never had that wine before, so I didn't know strange/different = danger. Now I do.


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