How To Save A Wine With Too Much Sulfite

Wine With Too Much SulfiteI inadvertently put too much sulfite in my wine must. Packaged advised 1/4 teaspoon PER 6 GALLONS OF MUST. I misread and added 1/4 teaspoon per gallon of must (6). My wine yeast did not ferment. All else was as it should be (SG, temp, and acid level). Is there anything I can do besides chalk it up to a learning experience and dumping it down the drain. It’s been a week and do not want it un-fermenting much longer. Please respond at your earliest convenience.

Name: Mary S.
State: Wisconsin
Hello Mary,

This happens more often than you might think. Many times we’ve had winemakers contacting us telling us they think they’ve ruined their wine because they put too much sulfite in it, and many times we’ve helped them to get their wine, and its fermentation, back on track. So, don’t think that your wine is a loss. There is hope.

The trick is to give the sulfite an opportunity to leave. Fortunately for you, the sulfites want to leave. You just need to let it. What I mean by this is the free sulfite that is in the wine wants to dissipate into the air and go away. You just need to give it an opportunity to do so. The easiest way of doing this is to splash the wine. And, I mean seriously splash the wine. Splashing is the friend of any wine that has too much sulfite.

Shop FerMonsterWe always recommend siphoning the wine from one fermenter to the next and then back again. When the juice comes out of the siphon hose, allow it to splash against something. Let it to cascade down the sidewall of the vessel, or let a sanitized object float in the fermenter as the fermenter is being filled, and splash the wine against that.

Once you have done this, add another packet of wine yeast and wait 24 hours. If the fermentation starts up, then great. The wine is saved. But, if the fermentation does not show any signs of life after 24 hours, you will need to repeat the splashing process, and then add another packet of wine yeast, and wait 24 hours, again. You can keep repeating this process until you’ve over come the abundance of sulfite in the wine.

You can keep adding packs of wine yeast as necessary. This will not affect the resulting wine in any way.

You may  be wondering if the wine will start oxidizing from all the splashing. The answer is, no. Sulfite acts as an antioxidant. All of the gas releasing from the wine during the splashing will protect the wine from any oxidative processes.

Shop Transfer PumpsPlease realize that whenever you have too much sulfite in wine, it’s just a matter of getting the free SO2 gas to release and go away. It’s nothing more than that. There have been some situations where the dosage was so high that it has reached a point of no return for the wine, but based on your situation as you described it above, I don’t think there is any way you will lose this wine if you do the siphoning and splashing a prescribed.

Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus
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.

10 thoughts on “How To Save A Wine With Too Much Sulfite

  1. I have a related question. Due to several extra rackings (as a result of having to reduce a high acid content) I have inadvertently added a total of about 20 campden tablets to several batches of wine. I assume that the sulfur dioxide gases have dissipated over the year long process, but is there a residual taste (bitterness, tanginess,etc.,) associated with an excess of sodium metabisulfite ? Is there something left in the wine after the gas dissipates ? thanx, Mike

  2. Do you have a recipe for Meade Wine? The vikings use to make it and Meade was their drink of choice.

  3. Michael, when you add metabisulfite of any kind to a wine, some of the sulfite will bond to the wine permanently. It will have no effect on the yeast or fermentation. It will not protect the wine in any fashion. It is just there. Depending on the acidity level of the wine, this could be anywhere from 40% to 70% of the sulfites. In regular doses throughout the course of making a wine it is not enough to affect the flavor of the wine, but in extreme cases it could. I have not tasted a wine with this defect, but my guess is it would add a salty taste to the wine, however I do not know. Here is another blog post that discusses this a little more:

    When Do I Add Campden Tablets To My Homemade Wine?

  4. I made 6 1/2 gals of wine and put to much potassium metabisulfite in my wine, I put 3 Tablespoons in it, what do I do.. Thanks Charlie

    • Charlie, most of the information that you requested is in this article. Basically, what you want to do is rack the wine in a splashing manner to get some of the sulfites to leave the wine.

  5. I used a quarter tsp of potassium metabisulfite per gallon to my must both a red and a white. When I added it to the red, I suspected an error immediately since it bleached the juice. Before I found this, I gave up on it as un-salvagable, but after several days sitting in my basement, I decided to try simply stirring it vigorously, I measured the free SO2 content and it was over 100, about twice the usual amount recommended for reds at the PH and added the yeast, fermentation began, but free SO2 is a bit high so I will continue to aerate it as it ferments each time I punch down the cap. The whites were put into the fridge to macerate, so I took them out, pressed them and measured the SO2 in the juice; it was too high for the Free SO2 Test Titrettes I have to measure. I will beat the juice up some more and see if I can get it down to something closer to the desired value. But anyway, Thanks I had given up hope and the only reason I did not throw the must out was sloth.

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