What is Preservative Free?
Preservative Free might sound a bit alternative, but you’d be surprised just how mainstream the domain of Preservative Free is and why more people are choosing to drink wine without additions. For some, it’s a medical reason, perhaps an allergy or a susceptibility to histamines, but for others it’s about consciously choosing a style of wine that suits their lifestyle and to some, the idea of additions to the wine just does not sit well.
There are many reasons a winemaker uses preservatives. In the simplest sense, it’s the best way for the modern winemaker to get the wine from the vineyard, to the winery and into bottle, ensuring the wine is in the best condition upon opening. Sometimes the grapes are damaged due to interference from vineyard pests and mother nature, and that will determine how much sulphur dioxide (code name 220) will go into the wine.
It's All in the Label
Wines with preservatives come with a warning on the back label and this can be depicted in a variety of ways: it may say “may contain sulfites” or “preservative 220” similarly. If there are no preservatives at all, it will say “free of preservatives”, and if little traces of preservative are present, this may be listed as “minimal sulphur added”. Bear in mind the shelf life of these wines, particularly the white wines, will not have the same longevity as those with more sulphur and should be drunk in their youth.