The new “no sulphur” trend | New Brief out, #192

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Per Karlsson portrait Britt Karlsson portraitThe new “no sulphur” trend

There is a new trend, still in its infancy. But it will – most likely – increase. You see it in France and probably in other wine countries as well. It is the “no sulphur” trend. Or to be more precise the “no added sulphur” trend.

You might be thinking “this is nothing new”. But this is not about “natural wine”. In fact, “natural wine” often has a little bit of added sulphur, just like most other wines. And it is not a question of organic wines either.

Instead, it is about satisfying consumers who want to avoid sulphur. And that’s it.

How the wine has otherwise been made is of lesser interest. The producers do not refrain from additives (except sulphur) or various process aids. On the contrary. These wines are often quite inexpensive and unpretentious but are sold with “no added sulphur” as an argument. To stabilize them without using sulphur they use other additives or maybe flash-pasteurization.

Volume producers such as Gérard Bertrand and several cooperatives in southern France have launched wines without added sulphur. Sometimes the wines are organically certified, sometimes not.

However, no one labels their wines as “without sulphur”. “Added” is an important clarification. During fermentation, the yeast produces sulphur, so virtually all wines inevitably contain sulphur.

As mentioned, the trend will most likely continue. The more wines that say “without added sulphur” on the label, the more consumers will question the use of sulphur. Many consumers have never even realised that the wines they drink may contain sulphur.

In a way, one wonders what drives this trend. Why do consumers want “without sulphur”? Sulphur is good in many ways, it kills unwanted bacteria and other microorganisms, stabilizes the wine and makes it less fragile. It is used in many other foods as well.

Is it simply that “sulphur” sounds awful and dangerous and very “chemical” and therefore consumers take it for granted that it is better without it?

So, then, what if you replace sulphur with something else? Is it better or worse? From a marketing standpoint, it is clearly better. Sulphur has a bad reputation. One neat thing about this whole discussion, however, is that the sulphur alternatives are natural too. Like sulphur. How about dead yeast as an alternative? Dead yeast cells are already doing magical things with both champagne and white burgundy aged sur lie, on a bed of dead yeast cells. Now, dead yeast has been given yet another task.

It is perhaps questionable if “with added dead yeast cells” sounds better from a marketing point of view. Instead, we will probably hear a lot more of the word “bioprotection”.

Read more about sulphur and yeast in the Brief.

And a few words about wine tours!

If you hurry we have some place left on the Champagne Tour in a couple of weeks’ time (due to an unfortunate cancellation).

Otherwise it is high time to think of your wine tour this winter, to brighten up the dark season.

There are two to choose from:

South Africa, that takes you to some of the very best producers in the country (not always easy to find on export), with wonderful wines, beautiful landscapes, and fantastic people.

New Zealand, a big tour in many ways that takes you on a voyage from the north to the south of New Zealand, plenty of wine, meetings with legendary wine producers, seals, lobsters, glaciers and much more.

Book a “world’s top wine tour” (as Travel+Leisure said) with BKWine Tours, we know wine and we know wine travel. This is what we do, it’s not a hobby or a secondary activity.

Enjoy the Brief!

Britt & Per

PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief !

What’s on at BKWine Tours



  • More to come

For more information please contact us on email or on phone (we’re on French time), or go to our wine travel site on!

We also make custom designed wine tours – on-demand tours for you and a group of friends, for your company (maybe to scout new winegrowers?), for a special event… We can combine winery visits and wine touring with other activities: gastronomic workshops, visit to an oyster farm, truffles hunting, cheese making, and more. More info on the custom designed and bespoke BKWine wine tours and travel here!

Read our book(s)

We have written several wine books, nine at the last count. One of them has been translated to English; the others are (so far) only available in Swedish. This is the one that is available in English: Biodynamic, Organic and Natural Winemaking, Sustainable Viticulture and Viniculture

All our books are on wine, but on different subjects: wines of the Languedoc, wine growing and wine making, the wines of France, Tuscany, Bordeaux, Piedmont, Burgundy, Champagne. Several have won prestigeous prizes and awards. Read more on our wine books.

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