‘Preservatif’ means condom in French so you can imagine how hard our organic neighbour laughed when I asked how many preservatifs were in his wine. Fortunately not many… Organic wine is lower in sulphur dioxide than conventional wines. Sulphur dioxide is the preservative added to wine to help to conserve it, limiting oxidation. It is the additive that gives you a tight, heavy head and a slowness the morning after enjoying a few too many glasses.
Wines made organically have a higher natural resistance to oxidation. Why? In the process of protecting themselves naturally through the season the vine creates additional elements that a chemically protected vine does not, like producing more resveratrol, the powerful antioxidant found in grape skins. Even more importantly, using chemical fertiliser offers a potassium dose that means the vine lowers the natural acidity in her grapes and hence in the wine. This natural acidity is also a super protector and preservative of the wine. The lower this natural acidity the higher the sulphur dioxide dose needs to be and vice versa. As organic and biodynamic producers we aim to keep our sulphur dioxide dose at half or less than the EU maximum. With higher natural acidity we can do this without risk to the health of our wines. More healthy wine = less headaches for you.
Sulphite maximums depends on the wine type but, as an example, for dry red, the EU maximum is 150 milligrams per litre (mg/l), the organic is 90 (mg/l) and Demeter is 70 (mg/l) (2017).
See our introduction to this series here