Wine and health is a very important topic that we want to cover more. We have started covering this with our article on 'Why drinking less but better wine?', where we discuss calories in wine, how many units are in a glass or bottle of wine and provide some tips on better drinking habits, some actions you can take towards a healthier drinking. Have a look and let us know what you think!
This time it is about wine intolerances including sulphites and allergies.
I consider myself as a person who can be allergic to a few things. I hate pollen, need to take hay fever meds and try to avoid drinking dairy. The latter was actually recommended to me by a friend pharmacist after I’ve complained about having sore throat far too often. After I switched to almond milk for my coffees and shakes I started to see the effect.
So as they say knowledge is power an hence I also wanted to share with you my findings about wine intolerances. We will start with what are they, move on to symptoms and then how to deal with it. As I also want to make it concise, we stop at that point, but I will attach some more information an sources for those who want to dig deeper. I have searched through tons of articles in UK, Canadian, Australian and US press, allergy related bodies and health associations, so you have a wealth of information.
Based on Oxford Companion to Wine, there is a major difference between an allergy which is an immunological condition and intolerances, which are of other causes.
So wine allergy can occur because of proteinaceous compounds. Traces of protein can remain in wine after fermentation, so are those occurring after fining when specific agents were used to clarify and stabilise the wine.
Apart from that, there is also a pollen-food allergy factor - some pollens can still remain in fruit skins and this can cause a reaction that can be described as oral itching.
Somewhere in the borderline of allergies and intolerances are biogenic amines histamine and tyramine, which are produced by lactic acid bacteria and higher levels of those are present in red wines. People suffer from headaches and refer to it as red wine intolerance.
If we move to white wines, the main factor for an intolerance here is sulphur dioxide, or sulphites / sulfites. Asthmatics are especially sensitive to those.
Both red and white wines contain sulphites as it is a by product of fermentation, yet naturally occurring sulphites are not exceeding 10 mg /l and will not in most cases be noticed even by asthmatics. If they are added and the concentration is below 45 mg/l it is fine for most of people and will not cause intolerances, yet with a higher concentration (can go way above 100 and 150 mg/l) there can be some issues. Main symptoms are creating difficulties, airway irritation, rhinitis, tight chest, coughing and wheezing. Some digestive issues and symptoms were reported as stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhoea. The incidence of sulphite sensitivity in the general population is thought to be less than 2%, but this rises to between 5 and 13% in asthmatics. However, adverse reactions to sulfites can also occur when there is no preceding history of asthma. Reactions can be mild through to potentially life threatening.
There is no such thing as a treatment, but if you feel that you might have (or diagnosed with) sulphite intolerance you should start avoiding of sulphite-containing foods, medicines and cosmetics. The degree to which this must be done depends on how sensitive you are. For many it will only mean to avoid foods with the highest sulphite content; others with more severe sensitivity will need to be very particular in avoiding even trace amounts in foods, medicines and cosmetics.
Symptoms arising from exposure to sulphites are treated according to the symptoms (e.g. anti-histamines or steroids for rashes, inhalers for asthma).
If you are sensitive to sulphites, the most important thing is to know how to treat your symptoms and be able to do so when, for example, you are eating away from home.
In the UK sulphites are now one of the twelve potential allergens (along with the likes of peanuts, fish, crustaceans, gluten and milk) that have to be labelled on a food or drink product - where they appear at a certain concentration or above. Warnings are now common on products such as wine or cider - yet in practice there is still a huge amount of ignorance and misinformation about their use and the health problems they can cause.
Stay in the know and if you are indeed sensitive to sulphites buy sulphite-free products.
Sulphite-free wines - why do some of them have 'contains sulphites' on the label? All wines contain naturally occurring sulphites, but the levels are very low - up to 20 mg/l. By law only the wines that contain less than 10 mg/l do not need include that on the label. We have referenced all wines and the ones that are listed as sulphite-free or no sulphite added have less than 20 mg/l of sulphites. People who suffer from intolerances start noticing it when concentration exceeds 45 mg/l only.
For our ever expanding best selling collection of sulphite free wines - click here.
It is also agreed that the true prevalence of sulphite sensitivity in the general population is not known and the real causes are very complex. More research is needed, but in the meantime please also find other products that you may want to check the labels for sulphite concentration (apart from wine).
Welcome to our report on sulphite-free wine tasting that happened on 22nd July 2016. We have quite a few people who booked in advance to come and sample our wines with no added sulphites. As demand for preservative-free wine grows, we have got more information on sulphites on our site, just head on to News section and select sulphite-free topic. For now just a quick roundup on the tasting.
Sulphites are by-product of fermentation and thus occur naturally in all wines, though in very low levels (10 mg/l). It is generally the rule that if the wine has more than 10mg/l of sulphite concentration it should state on the label ‘contains sulphites’. People who are sensitive and histamine-allergic can also feel the reaction of sulphites and experience migraines and also respiratory difficulties.
Small amounts could be routinely added to most wines as a preservative. That is where it can become nasty. Asthmatics who are very sensitive to sulphites may start experiencing respiratory problems when drinking wine with sulphur dioxide concentration above 45 mg/l.
Sulphites were used in winemaking since almost forever. Romans used it as a cleaning agent and a preservative.
Modern critics agree that even though it is present in all wines it should be kept to a minimum in high-quality winemaking.
Sulphur dioxide is used to prevent oxidation, it simply means winemakers should employ more profound techniques to ensure that there is no need of excessive sulphites. There are many other uses of sulphites - many winemakers use them to mask undesirable aromas and flavours that could be a result of spoilage yeasts.
Widespread concerns about sulphur dioxide allergenic properties of course should be addressed. Yet it is down to careful winemaking techniques.
Organic regulations also impose stricter restrictions on sulphites: 100 mg/l for dry reds and 150 mg/l for dry whites and rose wines.
For people who suffer from extreme allergic reactions to wine it can still be high, so they should opt for wines that are marked sulphite-free or natural and check out sulphite contents.
Gavi ‘Spinola’ Castello di Tassarolo, Piedmonte, Italy
Nosso Verdejo Natural, Castilla Y Leon, Spain
Tempranillo Vinas Viejas, Bodegas Parra Jimenez, La Mancha, Spain
Cabernet Sauvignon Waverley Hills, Tulbagh, South Africa
See our full range of no sulphites added organic wines and cases here: https://organicwineclub.co.uk/collections/sulphite-free-organic-wines
As part of our regular Wine Tasting schedule, we have hosted a pop up tasting or organic Sauvignon Blanc wines.
Sauvignon Blanc is the hugely popular grape variety responsible for some of the world’s most distinctively aromatic dry white wines: Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, and from outside France, most notably New Zealand and up and coming Chile and USA.
It is straightforward, obvious and easy-to-appreciate. Sauvignon Blanc addresses a demand coming from modern wine consumers who are more interested in immediate fruit than subtlety and ageing ability.
Sauvignon Blanc’s most recognisable characteristic is its piercing, instantly recognisable aroma. Descriptions typically include grassy, herbaceous, musky, green fruits (gooseberries), nettles. Yet in some cases tasters get notes of tropical fruit that are underlined by an exciting and refreshing citrus.
There is an ongoing work to experiment with fermentation, maturation in oak, picking the grapes at different levels of ripeness to add nuance and pungency to the aroma and weight to the palate.
Oak-aged Sauvignon Blanc are much more rare but do exist - they need an additional year or two to show their best. France is on top of their game with ageing, yet there are some really interesting examples how US winemakers use oak with their Sauvignons.
Sweet Sauvignons also exist - you do not need to go too far, simply refer to the most famous Sauternes where he plays a major part in the blend.
In cold climates there is a risk that the grapes won’t ripen fully, so the wines will taste overly herbaceous and aggressive. Some critics call them simply rank. In hot climates Sauvignon Blanc can go overripe and resulting wines will taste flat, lose their refreshing ability and simply fail to impress.
Loire style has been recognised as the more pure Sauvignon Blanc as anywhere in the world.
New Zealand style is intensely perfumed, more obviously fruity and can show as sweeter notes, but also asparagus and gooseberries.
Other regions picked up on this Kiwi rising star and started to copy the success. Chile, North America and South Africa show some progress in that direction. Chile is emerging very rapidly - they got this variety on the coastal vineyards and the quality is improving.
Sancerre ‘Terres Blanches’ - French traditional appellations do not carry the name of the grape variety on the label. Organic by EU and French standards. Great with seafood, hot fish starters and cheeses.
Supernatural Sauvignon Blanc - Unfiltered New Zealand opulent Sauvignon Blanc. More tropical fruit and floral notes to express with refreshing citrus. More body and intensity.
Ventopuro Sauvignon Blanc - Coastal production from Chile. Restrained fruit and some vegetable notes that open up to more tropical notes further on. Elegance and delicacy.
These three wines are available in case of 6 (2 each) with 20% discount - Members only cases.
We were so chuffed to being able to sell a case of 12 classic organic wines (mixed) to David L. on the first day of trading online! Afterwards, we've contacted them to ask a few questions and here is what our customers told us.
Chaotic, in a word. My partner and I both work in London, our jobs devour every waking hour and The Tube seems to steal whatever time is left. Consequently our wine buying is impulsive (either a lunch time dash or on the way home), rushed and incredibly inefficient. First impressions for us are everything - If it looks good it goes into the shopping basket!
Both of us recognise that we need help! We have both, independently, asked around and done some research on wine clubs. They seem tailor-made for our situation. Suddenly we have structure to our wine-buying lives. We both ‘get’ the premise that you need to buy by the case. It makes sense. Instead of countless individual purchases every month, buying through a club means we go through the whole process just once. Best of all, these clubs deliver to your door. Having spent the week working and commuting, the weekend offers a chance to relax. Neither of us want to get in a car, especially in London, and spend hours stuck in traffic.
Initially, it was for health reasons. We both like to keep fit, squeezing in a jog round the block most mornings and getting on the bikes at weekends. At the same time we enjoy a glass of wine and invariably our friends are involved!
The quality of wine consumed varies hugely. Both of us know that you get what you pay for and that quality is closely linked to how a wine is made. The average bottle of wine, we realise, is full of additives and, like many people, we are concerned what these may be doing to our health.
My partner was recently alerted to the benefits of organic wine by one of her book club (funnily enough over a glass of organic wine), and pillow talk that night consisted of an in-depth explanation of organic and biodynamic wines: their lack of pesticides in the vineyard, the omission of sulphur in the bottle, and so on!
I was startled to learn how global is the organic movement, how established it is, yet how much bad press these wines get. Organic wines, we thought, often taste nasty because they are unstable. Stability, goes the mantra, comes from these added chemicals. Neither of us know enough to tell the difference but we would like to find out more and judge for ourselves. Unfortunately, finding a decent selection of organic wines has, until now, been quite challenging.
We think Organic Wine Club will change all that for many.
Very positive. Life has been hectic recently, so we have not been able to take advantage of the various options to try before you buy that the club offers. If a window of opportunity opens up in our lives we are keen to join one of your informal in-store tastings. Fortunately their website, https://organicwineclub.co.uk, gave us various options to buy.
Different pre-mixed cases are available on their Club page. As, newbies to organic wine should have been a bit more modest, but no, we went for Classic mixed case. We were then amazed to discover we had become members! How easy is that? This was shopping at its most painless. We ordered at the click of a mouse, got on with our lives and waited for you to deliver to our door.
As we are so new to this wine club it is yet to be seen in full. Yet I can see a few benefits. Getting 10% on every case we buy, mixed or unmixed, is a good start.
What has really grabbed our attention is something quite different. Both of us travel a lot with the same airline and are used to being rewarded with airmiles. We are not, on the other hand, used to being rewarded with points for every £1 we spend on a bottle of wine. Such a simple idea and so effortless. After all, we are going to buy wine anyway, so this is a bonus. We have recently introduced a couple of friends to the club and been rewarded with even more points (500 per friend).
I remember as a kid my dad collecting green shield stamps. Then one day, armed with a stack of completed coupon books, he would redeem them for a lawnmower or some more engine oil! This is even better - you redeem the points for more wine. We will build up a useful little pot of points and then the fun part will come - redeeming all those points.
Comments from our staff: our loyalty programme is called Wine Drops, make sure you register an account and start referring. You can then get a very nice discount on your own wine when you decide to shop.
Yes, your offer to come to our house and give a tutored tasting is a great idea. Both of us are keen to learn more about organic wines and who better to inform us than the professionals? We could then progress to one of your wine education courses. I can think of quite a few of our friends who would be interested. I might even persuade my brother-in-law, a busy city professional who is cash rich but time poor, to join us. He knows a lot about derivatives but less than he thinks about wine!
Have an open mind and try them. Many of us like to push the boundaries so why not adopt that same adventurous spirit when we choose wine to drink? The Organic Wine Club is a good place to start.
Comments from us: We are so grateful for our customer's willingness to share. A few steps you can take just now towards a better wine shopping: sign up for our newsletter and get a Free Delivery voucher; register an account and start referring friends. You will get a bonus from us as well (200 points for creating an account). Exchange that all for wine! Cheers
Just yesterday we have hosted our first wine tasting.
After being open for 3 full days we have received quite a few questions about wine tasting opportunities, so we have decided to host one straightaway. We are overwhelmed with support from local residents, members of business community in Worcester Park, bloggers and social media enthusiasts who have helped to spread the word! Cannot be more grateful for that.
Domaine de la Colombette Barbejo - a fruity and vibrant white from south of France, Pays d'Oc.
Domaine du Jas d'Esclans Provence Cru Classe - an elegant and classy rose from prestigious Provence.
'Pure' Cabernet Franc 2013 from Pays d'Oc - a lighter bodied red that is fuller than your usual Loire style of this grape.
Tenuta San Vito Chianti DOCG - a classic Tuscan Chianti made from 100% organic Sangiovese.
We have also began to permanently display a few wines that we do not stock, but would like to get an opinion about. If you like it, we will stock it. It is that simple. As we live in a shared economy, we simply want to be relevant and current based on our customer's feedback.
This week we have 3 bottles to try: a classy Haut-Medoc Bordeaux, a vibrant Pot du Vin from Pays d'Oc and an interesting white Picpoul de Pinet. Visit us to sample and let us know what you think please!
It has been a lovely day. We are so pleased to help dozens of people to choose organic wines, so come in to have a friendly chat about organic wines.
See you soon.
Our next tasting is scheduled on Friday 8th July for our launch evening (4-8pm). Please RSVP by email and we are looking forward to seeing you! To celebrate our launch we still have a few organic wine cases (out of initial 80) left with a massive 25% off - have a look at our organic wine promo page.
This short but valuable guide is to show you how to get the most value and benefits from Organic Wine Club.
Let’s start with the whole essence of what is Organic Wine Club. It is UK’s first wine club solely dedicated to organic wines. It offers delicious wines, variety of flavours to savour and explore. It is a club as it offers members-only exclusive cases and discounts up to 25%. We recommend to drink organic wine - these wines are healthier as compared to conventional wines. If you want to learn more about organic wine and other different types of healthier wines, read our guide on all things organic wine here.
Helping people to drink less but better wines is the ultimate wine & business mission.
Organic Wine Club expertly handpicks all organic wines that we stock and engages its members in decision making process - our customers are in control what we order and sell. Visit our store to taste some organic wine or give us feedback online please.
So how to get the most value for money whilst still buying amazing organic wines that are better for you? Read the details below or download our 2-page short pdf file here.
Most important is to sort out an account with us. Many people buy without opening an account and they start to miss out on additional perks the same moment. Our advice is that you can sign up for an account with is without even buying organic wine.
Why? We run our loyalty programme called Wine Drops and it starts rewarding you from the moment of account creation. You get an introductory 200 points when you sign up, 1 point for every £1 spent and somewhat amazing 500 points for referring a friend. Just to illustrate, if you have signed up (200 points), referred 6 friends (they need to become a purchasing member), you will have 3200 points. That is £32 off a case of wine for you. Before you buy anything. Great tip, hope you will use it. Download our web leaflet about Wine Drops here.
Next stop is to sign up for our newsletter. We want to keep all our visitors, customers and members updated about what’s going on - we publish dates for our free organic wine tasting events, special promotions and useful information about organic wines. Don’t worry, no spam or third party emails. We also keep these emails to a bare minium (1-2 a month). When you sign up, you will receive a voucher code for a free delivery. That is £8 saving too!
You are almost there to make a wonderfully cost effective organic wine purchase. Organic Wine Club is constantly running welcome offers. If you stay tuned and manage to get a deal, you are up for a treat. Great discounts and also delicious wines are on offer. Make sure to check promotional page with the current organic wine offers.
If the promo cases did not spark your interest or you’ve bought one and want more value then you should definitely have a look at the Wine Club Cases page. Membership at Organic Wine Club starts with buying any of Introductory or Classic organic wines cases.
Choose between mixed, just reds, just whites case of 6 or 12 bottles. They are already discounted up to 10% off retail prices. Remember, you will be accumulating Wine Drops as well. Yet it is not the main advantage - your membership with us assumes you get 10% off anything! It also includes an access to Members-only cases page, which gives you an additional discount of 10%.
You can also subscribe for regular deliveries and get additional 5% off.
There are no fees to maintain your membership and you can save up to 10-25% on pre-mixed member cases and also tailor your own case with at least 10% off. Contact us with your own requirements and we will be happy to advise on organic wine.
Membership at Organic Wine Club is not just about discounts, it is about becoming a member of our organic wine community. Tasting events, educational sessions, wine tasting evenings with producers and social events are very popular at Organic Wine Club. Members join us for free pop in organic wine tasting sessions and themed tastings. Have a look at our Tasting page for the tasting schedule.
Living in a digital economy also means that we are active on social media - please feel free to engage with us and fellow organic wine club members on Facebook, Twitter and more platforms.
There are so many ways how to get the most out of your engagement with Organic Wine Club. Make it smart - save money, get free delivery coupon, join the club, subscribe and learn more about wines you drink. We almost forgot - save Earth (just a little bit) and drink organic!