All still locked down here, and I was during Xmas and New Year as well.
I did invite one friend over for Xmas, Ed, who arrived Xmas eve and left on Boxing day.
He bought a bottle as a present, and as a result of us drinking this, to topic of sulphates in wine cropped up.
First of all the wine that Ed bought, pictured with his card.
Ed had recommended this wine, so curious to try it. As it was a present, price unknown.
Aroma: Raspberry scents, pleasant, not too strong.Ed
Taste: A little peppery, not as good as one previously purchased.
Aroma: Very nice. Subtle, not overpowering. Light red fruits such as cherry.Paul (me)
Taste: Strong flavour, a bit sour, peppery (but I like a little peppery), But a bit acidic.
Overall, quite a nice wine, but I could not see why Ed had recommended it so much. Ed himself was also not so keen on it, and was sure that it was better when he bought it before. When he looked at the bottle again, he realised that he had bought the wrong wine.
The wine that he had bought before had an ‘NSA’ label. This if for ‘No Sulphur Added’. These are often organic wines. He said to try and get the the Carta Roja wine, but with an NSA label.
So shopping a week later in Morrisons, I do see this wine. (Morrisons has been my favourite supermarket for wines in the UK, now that I cannot buy in France for a while. More on this in future posts).
So obviously I buy a bottle to compare. The wine is labelled ‘Pura Monastrell’. Note the ‘NSA’ and ‘Organic Wine’ labels.
At Morrisons, typically £8.50, but bought on special offer for £7.
Obviously difficult to compare well as there was a week between tastings, but I tried.
Aroma: Similar, slightly stronger with darker fruits scents.Paul (me)
Taste: Definitely smoother and less acidic. Still with a strong full-bodied peppery flavour, and better when left to breathe. Still a slight sourness.
I did prefer the organic/NSA wine of the Carta Roja wines. But not as good as some of my favourite red wines. But it made me curious to find out a bit more about this. Some people make a fuss about things being ‘organic’ and the same sometimes applies to wine too. Again, one can just search ‘organic wine’, ‘no sulphur added wine’ or ‘low sulphite wine’ and you will find a lot of information. Here is some of the results from my search. Some from organic wine producers, so they will have their own agenda.
One of the best is this very good article from Vintage Roots. Here are some extracts.
“It is important to say at this stage that the demonisation of sulphur isn’t fair. For a start it’s a natural by-product of the fermentation process. There is no such thing as a 100% sulphur-free wine.”
“the role of sulphur in ‘cleaning up’ the winemaking act has been important. It has played a crucial part in helping winemakers deliver consistent, stable wines to a very happy wine-drinking community.”
This is something that I have heard before about modern winemaking. Processes are in place to make the wines ‘consistent’ They seem to vary less from year to year than they did in the past, where the year of the wine was considered more important than it is now. But adding sulphur has been going on for a long time.
“The ancient Roman and Greek civilisations were quick to discover sulphur’s qualities as a preservative.”
“If we skip on a few millennia to the twentieth century the presence of sulphur in wine production is widespread. …a dash more sulphur is added for stability and enduring freshness.”
So there are good reasons to add sulphur, but I can see why some people rate them.
“One of the characteristics of NSA wines is that they will oxygenate more quickly than other wines and so it’s quite possible that the wine will change from one glass to the next which is great fun.”
But don’t think that it will stop you getting a headache. “there are those that will tell you sulphur in wine is the cause of many a wine headache. We don’t doubt you – sulphur sensitivity is a real thing. So too is alcohol and if you drink too much of it, NSA or not, a headache may well follow!”
Another good article about sulphur is wine is from winemusing.com. Maybe slightly more balanced as not from an organic wine producer. Here are some extracts
“The potential for the natural wines made without sulphur in your glass to have a fault that will seriously detract from your enjoyment of that wine is significantly increased when purchasing a ‘preservative free’ wine compared to a wine made with preservatives. Faults may include the wine being oxidised fully or maybe just enough to simply be just bordering on unpleasant.”
And the best comment below and also from the wine musing article. If you don’t like one, don’t let others persuade you that it is good, just because it is organic or NSA. I will definitely try some more, but will keep buying my favourites, and will not obsess about whether they are organic/NSA or not.
“As a drinker, be assured that if you do NOT like these characters, then don’t be convinced that you should. If you find the wine unpleasant, then your journey with this wine is obviously very different to the person trying to convince you. There will always be someone there to zealously tell you that the wine is supposed to be this way.”