Blog: IT’S TIME TO TALK ABOUT THIS | The Whalley Wine Shop

By Sam Johnson

This week Sam takes a look at Sulphites in wine, what they are, and why you should care.

The year is 2005. It’s a month before Christmas, a time of year that is so perfectly suited to nights in with a bottle of Red that it’s hard to imagine the season without it. But this year is different, something has appeared on the bottle that hasn’t been there before; two words that make the whole idea of putting your feet up with an overfull glass of liquid heaven seem more dangerous, something worthy of concern.

The offending words?

“Contains Sulphites”.

As of November 2005, it has been a legal requirement within the EU for producers to label bottles with a Sulphur Dioxide/Sulphite warning if the wine contains any more than 10mg/l. Ever since, there has been a lot of talk and a lot misunderstanding about sulphites in wine: What actually are they? Are they harmful? Why do winemakers use them? Do they cause hangovers? Should I be drinking sulphite free wine?

The Facts

So, without trying to get overly scientific, let’s start off by clearing up the facts of the matter:

  • Sulphites is the term used for Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)
  • SO2 is a preservative used in winemaking due to its antibacterial and antioxidant properties.
  • SO2 is also a natural by-product of the fermentation process.
  • SO2 is widely used in many other food industries, not just winemaking.

In other words, sulphites do occur naturally in wines as a result of the fermentation process (yes, even in organic wines), but the majority of winemakers choose to add additional SO2 to help keep undesirable yeasts and bacteria at bay, as well as helping to protect the wine from oxidation, retaining it’s fruit integrity and preventing ‘browning’.

The Rumours

So if they’re so helpful why all the fuss? Well, it is true that Sulphur Dioxide can cause severe allergic reactions in some people. However, it is estimated that only around 1% of the population are affected by this sulphite intolerance.

It’s reasonably safe to assume that you would already be aware of this by know! Let me give you an example: the vast majority of modern wines that “contain sulphites” typically contain around 20-200PPM (Parts per Million). That’s an awful lot lower than is found in dried fruit (500-3,000PPM) or French Fries (1500-1900PPM)! So if you can eat a handful of raisins without any problems, or binge on take-away chips without so much as the feeling of regret afterwards, then you should be more than ok with wine.

Oh and no, they don’t cause your hangovers. There is currently no scientific evidence to suggest that sulphites are the cause of your headaches after a heavy night on the wine. The most probable explanation is the volume of alcohol you consumed and dehydration caused by a lack of water intake during the night!

Where To Go From Here

So after establishing what sulphites do and what they don’t, where do you go from here?

Well really it’s a very personal choice. Sulphites have different effects on different people, and we all have our reasons for choosing to avoid or ignore them, what’s most important is the enjoyment gained from any glass of wine.

While wines may look scary with “CONTAINS SULPHITES” emblazoned on the side, it’s really just the choice of the winemaker to go about his craft in the most predictable and risk-free way possible with the aim of delivering as many fault-free, consumer-friendly wines as possible to your wine rack.

Low or Zero Added Sulphur wines on the other hand can be a little less predictable, but who wants predictable? Right? There can be just as much enjoyment gleaned from a glass of Low Sulphite wine as any regular bottle and it’s all a matter of personal tastes and preferences, plus it’s a huge bonus for those who find sulphites troublesome in one way or another!

And so, despite the wishy-washy “everyone’s a winner” conclusion, I hope that I’ve been able to shed some light on Sulphites and why you can choose to care about them or not! Good wine is good wine, sulphites or no sulphites, and that should never be forgotten. The world of wine can sometimes be daunting and over-technical but, my God, it tastes good! Doesn’t it?

Next Week: Reasons Why You Should Be Excited By Austrian Wines

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BLOG: Exciting Shop News! | Why not come along for the ride?

 By Tom Jones – Owner

Tom gives us an update on the Shop’s future plans and get’s the ball rolling with the first of our new blog series.

Welcome to the first of our new wine blogs!

Here we aim to give you little snippets of informations relating to the shop and our plans for the year, give an overview of interesting debates and questions that are fermenting away under the surface across wine industry and generally plenty of engaging content that appeals to the wine, beer and spirits geek that lives inside all of us at the shop! We are going to have great fun writing it and I hope you will get some enjoyment out of reading it.

A Quick Overview

I am delighted to say that The Whalley Wine Shop had another successful year with 2017 being our busiest year to date. Almost unbelievably we will be 8 years old in April of this year and we could not have achieved either of these things without the continued support from the village and all our fantastic customers, near and far. Without you and your support there would be no Whalley Wine Shop; the team and myself never forget this simple fact!

Time To Get Excited!

Looking ahead and 2018 is going to be an incredibly exciting year for us at the shop with lots of new developments and plans already in place.

Firstly our social media and online communications should get a lot more interesting! This blog is just a starting point; we will have articles, polls, exclusive deals and offers, exciting giveaways, competitions and more on both our Facebook and Twitter feeds. Make sure you follow us and stay tuned so that you never miss out!

We will also be starting a couple of specific mailing lists, tailored to your specific interests. For starters, we will be sending out emails about ‘Fine Wine’, primarily premium wine and collectable wines, as well as a newsletter for our ‘Beer Heads’ regarding new arrivals and hard to find, limited stock craft beers and ales. If you’re interested in either of these, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Will ( so he can give you more information and get you signed up.

We are also revamping our website (hurrah!), it is long overdue and we can’t wait to have a shiny new one that will keep you all up to date with our offers, events and tastings, what’s in our ‘By The Glass machine’, and keep an eye out for a new feature down the line, allowing you to order and purchase certain products online. Watch this space!

New Stock!

In the short term we have just had our major buying season and it has been a fantastic success! We have already found 50+ new wines that will be landing in-store over the next couple of weeks. We’ve picked out a bunch of exciting wines that caught our eye (and taste buds) due to their fantastic quality and excellent value. Why not head in and check out the new arrivals on our shelves? Make sure you check out of social media channels as we will be posting updates on new stock, as and when they arrive!

Quaffable Cases

Finally we just want to let you know about our seasonal ‘Quaffable cases’. This is a mixed case of 12 wines that offer serious drinkability at a great price: the definition of ‘Quaffable’ wines! It consists of a fixed case of 6 whites and 6 reds for just £74.99 or only £6.25 a bottle. The Spring case will launch in-store on Wednesday 7th of March with Summer, Autumn and Winter cases being released later in the year. This is a great chance to find new wines so if you’d like to reserve one, please contact Jen ( We even deliver, too!

That’s it for now; make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming blogs over the next few weeks!

Thank you for reading and thanks again for supporting The Whalley Wine Shop! We are aiming to have a great year and give our customers ever better service and wines. Why not come along for the ride?

Have a great week!
Tom and the Team

Next Week: It’s Time To Talk About Sulphites!

For any information regarding the blog, please contact

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