Technique

Reducing Use of Winemaking Sulfites

Inexperienced amateur winemakers are often misled thinking that making red wine is easier — or at least more foolproof — than making white wine because reds are better protected by polyphenols from the effects of oxidation. The result: Tired, orangey (and even brown) colored, lifeless reds. Making great red wine is indeed more challenging as we now have to contend with those polyphenols, namely tannins and anthocyanins, in the overall balancing act and structure; for example, tannins can be very harsh if not managed against acidity. Tannins provide structure and mouthfeel while anthocyanins impart color ranging from purple to red. But tannins (and other polyphenols) and anthocyanins interact extensively with sulfite, dissolved oxygen (DO), metal ions from iron and copper, and acetaldehyde (from yeast fermentation and ethanol oxidation) to affect color, color stability, wine structure and aging potential. Add in the mix of oak aromas and flavors, wood tannins and the small, slow ingress of oxygen into oak barrels and you can appreciate the level of complexity in making that elusive great red wine. We will do away with expensive