Are sulfites in wine bad for you?

MY NOSE STARTED to quiver as my eyes, already bloodshot, screwed up in reflex in preparation for an almighty, juddering sneeze.

I was sitting in a café on the outskirts of a major wine growing region in France. It was evening and after a long day’s wine tasting we had finally ordered our food and were ready to unwind and enjoy the first glass of wine that we didn’t have to spit out. Only I was sneezing, uncontrollably.

“I do apologize,” I said to the rest of the table, a mixed company of négociants and wine importers. “It must be all that sulfur in the young wine we tasted.”

“Nonsense!” came the riposte. “There was certainly sulfur in the wines you tasted but it’s highly unlikely that it’s causing your sneezing fit,” said one importer, with the weary expression of someone who has been down this road before.

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