Wine Doesn’t Agree With Me



Organic Wine Tasting, Without Added Sulphur


Friday 17th February


£20 in advance only

(places must be booked two days in advance)


@The Greenhouse

42-46 Bethel Street

Norwich NR2 1NR

Facebook: Organic Wine Norwich

I like wine, but wine doesn’t like me.”

It’s an increasingly familiar refrain. Headaches and migraines, or stomach aches, and an irritable digestion, the punishment for modest consumption. Or perhaps your fun is tempered by respiratory problems, from sneezes to congestion, or even asthma attacks.

But before you give up wine, try organic wine – and if problems persist, try organic wine without sulphites.

Sulphites are one of the most discussed aspects of winemaking, and an increasing, though still very small, number of wines are being made without adding sulphur dioxide.

Sulphites aren’t the only allergen in wine. The various pesticides, herbicides and fungicides used to grow grapes in agrochemical agriculture can irritate more sensitive drinkers. Fining agents may cause problems, as may added industrial yeast strains. Tannins in oak can lead to headaches for some, and the histamine that occurs naturally in red wine during malolactic conversion can stimulate allergic responses.

There’s a good reason sulphites have received so much press, though. They can provoke allergic reactions of varying severity, and they impede the liver’s ability to process alcohol – which tends to make the morning after more punitive. As alcohol is exempt from mandatory labelling laws, it is hard to avoid the items in the preceding paragraph, but producers are legally obliged to declare if a wine contains more than 10 parts per million of sulphur dioxide.

So why do producers use sulphur dioxide? Well, it’s a useful preservative. It prevents oxidation of wine, which can cause sherry-like aromas and flavours, and turn a wine brown; it is also anti-microbial, so helps prevent spoilage bacteria from multiplying; and it keeps yeasts dormant, so will prevent wines from refermenting, a particular danger for sweet wines.

But it’s possible to do without it. It does, however, require healthy fruit, high standards of hygiene in the winery, and skilled winemaking.

Which means, of course, this evening will be a treat for the senses on the night, as well as a relief for the body the morning after. We will begin with a Gavi that is unusually light and crisp for a sulphite free white. Most winemakers give the grapes some skin contact time for white, to utilise the antioxidant properties of the grape skins. This tends to mean fuller-bodied, textured, and deeper coloured whites, as with the Verdejo that follows.

Sulphite-free reds, meanwhile, tend to be made in a light and fruity style, in anaerobic conditions, often stainless steel vats. The Nero d’Avola ‘Insieme’ is a great example of this popular style. The Syrah-Roussanne that follows is packed with fresh fruity flavours, but has additonal complexity, with the spice of the Syrah lifted by the perfume of the Roussanne. Then the Valréas (a named village in the Rhône), is more ambitious again – blackcurrant fruit, black pepper and liquorice spice, with a hint of mushroomy maturation. And the last wine on the night, a blend of Nebbiolo and Barbera, is a seriously full bodied, warming wintry treat.

Our tasting evenings are informal, unpretentious and sociable, suitable for novices and experts alike. Our one rule is to avoid wearing aftershaves and perfumes, as this may mar the tasting for you and for others. We taste as a group and share feedback as we go along, and start with a few wine tasting principles, whilst not forgetting the main one – that wine is fun.

The Evening’s Wines:

1) Gavi ‘Spinola’, Castello di Tassarolo, 2015

Piemonte, Italy. 13% abv. Shop price £13.50

Served with seasonal pesto

2) Verdejo ‘Nosso’, Sitios de Bodegas, 2015

Rueda, Spain. 12.5%. £15.95

Served with chestnut, parsnip & squash purée

3) Nero d’Avola ‘Insieme’, Santa Tresa, 2015

Sicily, Italy. 13%. £9.95

4) Syrah / Roussanne ‘Salvaje’, Emiliana, 2015

Casablanca, Chile. 14.5%. £12.95

Served with Taifun smoked tofu

5) Valréas, Domaine Grande Bellane, 2015

Rhône Valley, France. Syrah / Grenache. 14%. £13.50

Served with roasted garlic mushrooms

6) Vino Rosso ‘Elia & Gioele’, Erbaluna, 2015

Piemonte, Italy. Nebbiolo / Barbera. 15%. £14.50

Served with Calon Wen Extra Mature Cheddar

All food organic

sourced from Folland Organics, row A Norwich Market,

& the Greenhouse shop. Vegan alternative to cheddar available on request. Please advise when booking.

Bread from the Timberhill Bakery

Feedback from our last No Added Sulphur tasting:

‘This was a brilliant evening. And no migraine or headache afterwards…In fact I felt positively revitalized the next day!’