How Do I Get Sulfites In My Wine Like The Wines At The Store?

Adding Sulfites To Homemade Wine.Hi:

I made 5 gallons of Sauvignon Blanc this past year. I will be ready to bottle in the near future. I read on most commercial wine bottles that they contain sulfites. My understanding this is a stabilizer and to protect the wine yeast from refermentation. I am in the process of sending an order in and would like to know what to use and what amt. per gallon?

Thanks TOM
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Hello Tom,

Sulfites are added to a wine just before bottling, primarily to help eliminate spoilage and keep the wine’s color from turning through a process of oxidation. It does this by killing any traces of wild mold or bacteria that may have found its way to the wine and by driving the oxygen out of the wine.

Sulfites are not affective in squashing a refermentation, particularly if you have added an actual wine yeast to the wine as opposed to relying on wild yeast from the grapes to do the job. Domesticated wine yeast is somewhat resilient to sulfites, while wild yeast can be easily destroyed by it.

If you are concerned with the possibility of a refermentation occurring, you will also want to add potassium sorbate in addition to the sulfites, however this should only be necessary if the wine yeast did not completely ferment all the sugars in the wine must, or if sugar has been added back to the wine before bottling as a means of sweetening it.

The easiest way to add sulfites to your wine is to use sodium metabisulfite. We offer it as a granulated powder. You simply dissolve it into the wine right before you bottle. Make sure that the sodium metabisulfite gets evenly disbursed throughout the entire batch. A good way to go about this is to add the sodium metabisulfite to quart or so of the wine first, to dissolve it.  Then blend the mixture into the rest of the batch.

The dosage of sodium metabisulfite you need is very small. You use 1/16 of a teaspoon for each gallon of wine. If you don’t have a 1/16 teaspoon, then use 1/8 teaspoon for each 2 gallons of wine. This is the same way wineries go about getting sulfites in the wine.

Happy Wine Making,
Customer Service at E. C. Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

11 thoughts on “How Do I Get Sulfites In My Wine Like The Wines At The Store?

  1. Instead of adding sodium metabisulfite couldn’t you add potasium metabisulfite instead to keep the sodium out of the wine??

  2. Because I have had my 1st experience with wine spoilage after a year in the bottle, I am interested in sulfites. However, I was looking for an answer as to which type of sulfite and quantity. Instead I see they they now have become in your words ‘affective"—an emotion I believe pretty much reserved for humans. Guess I’m just getting old, I’m certainly a little puzzled. —and, I am still looking for what to add to prevent this (at least for the first 2-3 years). Tom

  3. Your wine might not be oxidized. You made wine from red and white grapes. The color of these grapes is very light. Moreover, you added bentonit. It cleared out the color pigments leaving a lightly colored wine.
    I would not add sulfites. You will kill the charm of drinking a home made wine. Just store the bottles in a slightly cooler place in the basement below/about 68 / 70 degrees F.

  4. I was told that sodium metabisulphite was to be used for sterlizing and that camdum tablets were to be crushed for the final process. Then I took a class and they said to add potassium metabisulphite to the wine and to use as a sterilizer for the bottles and put in the wine at the end. who is right

  5. Jim, absolutely you can use potassium metabisulfite or even Campden tablets. We usually say sodium metabisulfite in more of a generic meaning since this is what home winemakers or most likely to have on hand.

  6. Tom, it just so happens that we have just posted a blog that covers your questions. See the post, "A Simple Guide To Metabisulfites" posted May 7th.

  7. Nancy, potassium metabisulfite and Campden tablets are the exact same thing. All wineries use potassium metabisulfite in the wine. They may use either sodium or potassium metabisulfite to sanitize equipment. Most will use sodium because it is cheaper.

  8. sir thanks for article on addition of sod.metabisulfite,it is really useful.sir I make ‘Herble Red Wine"It is praised by every friend .any body can pl. help to produce it commercially.very very good for cold countries.Thanks

  9. I put in a tsp of Potassium Sorbate in My 5 Gal of wine and still have 6 weeks or so to let clear! Am I OK or did I mess up?

  10. David D, as long as the actual fermentation was complete you will have no issues with your wine. If the wine is still fermenting you may find that the sorbate will drag out the fermentation activity for an extra week or two. This is okay. It just requires you to be a little more patient with this particular batch.

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