On a whim, my sweetheart and I decided to check out a local wine and art festival that we stumbled upon while on a drive this past weekend. I’d been to one wine-fest before, which was the year before the sulfite sensitivity hit me. Since then, I’ve listened to my friends’ plans to go to the local annual wine fest with a bit of jealousy and longing.
See grapes have naturally occurring sulfites. Fermented products, like wine, have naturally occurring sulfites. And to prevent oxidization, and the off taste that it produces, most wine makers add more sulfites. Wine was pretty much a non-starter from the day the allergist determined sulfites were to blame for my hives.
And I love wine.
I do enjoy beer, and a good whiskey or bourbon. But wine. Wine makes me happy. I know it’s very cliché, but it really does. Something about a nice glass makes me feel a little fancy even. But overall, it seems to bring on a low-key happy glow that just makes me smiley, a feeling I do prefer over the effects of beer or booze. I am by no means a connoisseur, quite the opposite. I once saw a coaster at a restaurant that read “a good wine pairing is whatever wine you like with good food.” That’s more my speed. I try it. I like it. I drink it.
I went over 5 years without grape wine. (Also, no “cheap”/big-company beer or mixed drinks.) No cooking with wine, no drinking with wine, no wine-drinking girls nights, no “wine and paint” bachelorette parties. A couple years back, we did find a berry farm which made true fruit wines (no grapes). I could tolerate about a glass and a half, but then the itchies would start up. Then my mom brought me a box-o-wine last Thanksgiving. She had found it at her local Trader Joes: Our Daily Red.
The box claimed “no detectable sulfites.” Too good to be true, right? Or at the very least, it can’t be any good. I had a few days off work due to the holidays, so I thought, what the heck. I’ll try it. I have every precaution available just in case.
And we drank it.
And it was good.
And I had no ill effects.
I did some research and found they did sell at a couple local places, so every so often I’d pick up a bottle. No I must say, this is no “fancy” bottle of wine. No French names. Not something you’d probably take to a dress-up dinner party. And it does not stay fresh for very long after opening, which was actually fine with me, because it does make a good cooking wine.
Since then, I’ve found a handful of organic wines that don’t bother me. I stress “organic wine” over “wine made with organic grapes.” I’ve found that the organic wines don’t tend to add any unnecessary ingredients (like sulfites). On one company website (Pacific Rim), I read that they purposefully alter their production methods to keep the sulfites down. There are other companies which specifically label “no added sulfites.” Turns out I can tolerate the naturally occurring sulfites, it’s just the added stuff that does me in.
Back to this past weekend.
We like art. We like wine. So a wine and art fest on a beautifully sunny fall afternoon sounded divine. I decided to pay my “tasting fee,” just in case. My thought was if I start to feel the itchies, I’ll just stop tasting. It wasn’t as if I’d be drinking any substantial amount, anyway.
We walked, we looked at art, we tasted. Things were going well.
At the third winery tasting stand, Castle Glen Winery, I noticed a rack of little plastic bottles. Upon closer inspection, I saw they were ‘Drop It’ bottles, which claim to be “the Only Natural Sulfite and Tannin Removal Drops for Wine.” I had recently read in Wired magazine about using hydrogen peroxide to greatly reduce sulfite levels in wine and had been meaning to try it out, so I bought a bottle. It cost me $10 at the wine fest, and is about the same price here on Amazon. One one-ounce bottle is supposed to treat up to 55 glasses of wine.
So we tasted Castle Glen’s wonderfully delicious wines…and their wine slushies! (Yes, wine slushies. That is something I will definitely be trying out when the warm weather returns!) It was getting to be a warmish fall day, so I ordered a full-size raspberry wine slushy to walk around with. I dropped two drops of the Drop It in my cup, gave it a swirl, and sipped on the deliciousness while we perused some more of the art booths.
No itch. No stomach ache. No anything but yum. Hooray!
By the end of the day, I had two wine slushies, and a glass of porter-style wine from Prince Michel Winery, all with the Drop It added. My sweetheart also had a glass of the porter, and a taste test revealed no difference with or without the drops. Needless to say, I was feeling very glowy by the time the day was done. But that is all I was feeling!
I went to bed that night and woke up the next morning with no headache, no bad feeling, no hives…not even the hint of an itch. Normally I’d at least have a headache after drinking that much wine. I had wine-fested like a champ, and had no ill-effect whatsoever.
Now that makes me very happy!