We might want to believe in “hangover-free” fizz, especially when another new batch of Prosecco – minus the sulphites – hits supermarket shelves.
Sulphites have been demonised for years, giving rise to the organic and sulphite-free wines that have been widely touted for their ability to “reduce the incidence of hangovers”.
But three different wine experts tell HuffPost UK that it’s all a marketing ploy.
“Sulphites do not provoke hangovers and having a sulphite-free wine will not [help you] avoid hangovers,” says Simon Delannoi, director and owner of the Calais Wine Superstore.
Delannoi attended wine school in Burgundy, France, for five years and is also qualified with the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a globally recognised wine qualification – so we like to think he knows what he’s talking about.
“The only way to avoid a hangover is not to drink a lot – that is the only way,” says Delannoi. “Calling a wine ‘hangover-free’ because it’s low in sulphites is pure marketing.”
Sulphites are used in the wine-making process to stop the wine from oxidising. As soon as a grape is cut off the vine, it starts to oxidise – a process which can affect all manner of things including the taste. “You use sulphites to throw into the tractor’s trailer until you get to the winery, so the grapes don’t oxidise on the way home,” Delannoi explains.
Josh Lachkovic is a WSET-qualified wine writer and founder of Josh’s Wine List, a bite-sized weekly email which aims to “demystify wine”. He says you can find sulphites in bacon, dried fruit and french fries, often in far higher amounts. And you don’t tend to get hangovers from those.
This is something Lindsay Cornelissen, founder of Wines With Attitude (and also WSET-qualified) touches upon. She says the fact sulphites get a lot of bad press is one of her biggest gripes. “Most dried fruits are way higher in sulphites than wine is,” she adds. “Does eating a bag of dried apricots give you a hangover?”
Lachkovic labels hangover-free Prosecco and wine as “a marketing ploy, jumping on a particular subset of the natural wine bandwagon that implies sulphites are bad”.
You get a hangover because alcohol is dehydrating, he explains. “If you want to avoid a hangover entirely: don’t drink alcohol. If you want to limit one, then limit your alcohol intake, eat well, and increase your water consumption.”
Well there you have it. Sorry to take the fizz out of things.