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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

sulfite free wines, Hudson Valley restaurants

Jamie and I have had a very busy March. March for us is wine tasting season. Most wine distributing companies roll out their spring portfolio. So some weeks we attempt as many as three tastings. Some of these tastings are small with as little as 50 wines of the larger ones have over 500 wines. Jamie and I are very critical when it comes to selecting wines for Aroma Thyme. We always try to talk to a vineyard rep or to the winery owner themselves. This helps us understand the wine. Of course we love wines are made from organic grapes. But some of these vineyards are not certified organic, but they are practicing organic. And then you find the vineyards that say they are sustainable, but who really knows what that means. At one tasting last week a very well-known California winemaker was touting his sustainability. is usually pretty easy to figure out how organic ones operation is after a few questions. And just last week one of the most well-known winemakers from California was telling me how sustainable the chemical Roundup is. I was totally shocked. So you'd definitely won't see this so-called sustainable wine on our list at Aroma Thyme. This is why you always ask about your wine or food.

But the big news for us at the restaurant is all the good wines that we did find. We now offer a white wine and a red wine by the glass that has no added sulfites. Not only are these wines certified organic, meaning the grapes and the wine process. Yes most wines are made with organic grapes and then they use chemicals in the wine process. But not this vineyard. The winery that I'm talking about is Badger Mountain from Washington State. We have always had Badger Mountain winds on our list over last four years. But never did we offer their wines by the glass. But with overwhelming demand for sulfite free and no sulfite added wines we knew it was time to offer more choices. So next time you come in our wine list will have a notation for no sulfite added wines by the glass.

Badger Mountain's purely read is a blend of Cabernet, Syrah and Merlot. Soft and luscious with bright, sweet, ripe red fruit and the lingering finish of berries and spice.

Badger Mountain's Purley White is a blend of Semillion, Muller-T and Sauvignon Blanc. fresh floral, citrus, and tropical fruit flavors and aromas with a crisp off dry finish.

Here are some sulfite facts from Badger Mountain's website:

USE OF SULFITES - Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are sulfites and why are they used?
    Sulfur dioxide(SO2) is a naturally occurring type of sulfite. Mined sulfur is heated into a liquid and used to protect wine from oxidizing. The same method has been used to protect wine from oxidization for centuries. Sulfur dioxide is used to protect the wine's character by inhibiting the growth of molds and bacteria and by stopping oxidation (browning) of the wine. In grape juice or wine, sulfur dioxide reacts with water molecules to form sulfites. A sulfiting agent can be added to foods and beverages in the form of sulfur dioxide (a gas) or as potassium bisulfite or metabisulfite (powders). In solution, all forms act the same way, releasing sulfur dioxide.
  2. Is the addition of sulfites to wine a new procedure?
    No. There is strong evidence that sulfur dioxide was used by Egyptians and has been in regular use since Roman times. European winemakers have used sulfur dioxide to prevent wine spoilage for centuries.
  3. Are there also naturally occurring sulfites in wines?
    Yes. Wine yeasts naturally produce up to 20 parts per million of SO2 during fermentation. There are also naturally occurring sulfites in other foods. In addition, our own bodies produce about 1,000 mg of sulfites a day through normal biochemical processes.
  4. When did the Contains Sulfites label become mandatory on wines?
    In 1988, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms ruling required all imported and domestic wines, beers and spirits to carry the label if they meet or exceed a threshold 10 parts per million sulfites. Because of naturally occurring sulfites, many wines fall under this ruling, regardless of whether sulfites have been added.
  5. Why the Concern?
    The concern over sulfites in the United States arose with the use of extremely high levels of SO2 (1,000 to 3,000 ppm) on salad bars to prevent browning of fruits and head lettuce. This use of sulfites resulted in asthmatic reactions--some serious. In 1986 the FDA banned the use of sulfites on fresh fruits and vegetables while other foods and beverages must now be labeled if they contain sulfites--even those which contain very low levels.
  6. What percentage of the population do sulfites affect?
    The reaction is a chemical sensitivity found in an extremely small percentage of the population. The majority of sulfite-sensitive people are asthmatic, but represent less than 3% of the asthmatics. We have sold to sulfite-sensitive people, always asking for their comments, and have received nothing but positive feedback.
  7. What is the sulfite level in Badger Mountain wines?
    Grape fermentations naturally generate about 8-10 parts per million sulfites, so no other additions are made for four to five months. At the time of bottling, sulfur dioxide levels are adjusted to 20-30 parts per million. In addition we produce a line of wines with only naturally occurring sulfites--no sulfites are added. Wines actually need one of the lowest levels of sulfites to ensure stability. Because of wine's alcohol content, naturally high acidity, and low pH, only low levels of SO2 need to be added to achieve stability.
  8. How does this level compare with other foods?
    Dried fruit, such as apples and apricots are typically packaged with 500 to 1,000 ppm SO2.

Marcus Guiliano

Aroma Thyme Bistro
165 Canal St
Ellenville NY 12428

1 comment:

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