Don’t Fear the Sulfites

I know several people who won’t drink wine “because of the sulfites.” One friend says the sulfites trigger her asthma. Another friend is convinced that’s what gives her a headache after a night of drinking.

Maybe it’s because many wine labels say “Contains Sulfites” like a warning, but many people have the mistaken idea that sulfites are bad for you, says Will Lyons of the Wall Street Journal. Lyons writes that some of the safest foods — and ones that won’t get you drunk, like apricots — have even higher levels of sulfites than wines.

Sulfites in wine are sulfur compounds added as preservatives. They help keep wine from oxidizing and turning into vinegar.

Those bad reactions some people may have after drinking wine, such as runny noses or headaches, are probably due to other factors. However, a tiny population of people can have allergic reactions to sulfites, especially asthmatics. So, my friend is probably not off base for passing on the wine.

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