Sulfites, Cilantro, and Or Haganuz Elima – Sulfite free wine

We have spoken before about sulfites when I posted an article, about the then ONLY Kosher Sulfite Free wine that I knew of. The Bashan Winery is a lovely small winery in the Galilee that only produces sulfite free wine.

So what is Sulfites? They are nothing more then a preservative for wine. They were added into wine staring in the last century or so. Before then people got along fine without using them – why? Because sulfites occur naturally in wine. The extra sulfites one may add allow for the wine to stay on the shelf or in the cellar longer. So most wine makers that bottle organic wine will say that white wines should be drunk within the year and within the day of opening it. Red wines have a bit more life to them – 5 years or so, as sulfites are far more prevalent in red wines.

Many wineries have wines made from organically grown grapes – this is a trend that many wineries are trying to push, in ways as part of the whole natural wine story. Also, because organic grapes are more than just a selling point, it because organic grapes are good for the vines, the vine workers, and ultimately, the customer.

When we talk about sulfite free wine, it does not always mean organic wine! In the USA, the rules are VERY simple, you CANNOT add any preservatives in ANY manner – as described here, (sorry the data is in a PDF) on the USDA website, if you wish to put the word Organic on the wine label. An organic wine means ZERO SO2 was added to the wine at any time in the processing of the wine. The wine will still have sulfites, unless they were fined out, because sulfites occur naturally in the grape skins.

So why all the buzz around sulfites in wine? Because some people are supposedly allergic to the sulfites. What is the percentage of people with this ailment? The USDA describes it as 1/100 as stated here, far fewer people than the percentage of folks who think Cilantro is the Devil’s spawn.

Unfortunately, I missed the chance to taste this brand new wine that is being imported into the USA by Happy Hearts, wine importers. The wine is made by the Or Haganuz Winery, which was founded in 2005. The winery can be found in the Upper Galilee village of Or HaGanuz, the winery lies about six kilometers north west of Sefad and at the foothills of Mt. Meron (taken from Rogov’s site). It is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Cabernet Franc. From the rest of the scores, maybe this wine is not worth the price. I saw it at a wine shop going for some 35 or so dollars! I guess since they have the monopoly in sulfite free kosher wine, they think they can charge whatever they want…

Chime in if you have tested it, I would love to know…

Posted on April 8, 2011, in Israel, Israeli Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine Industry. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Daniel Rogov on his forum ( had these notes for the wine:

    Or HaGanuz, Elima, 2009: A blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Cabernet Franc, said to “contain no sulfites”. Dark garnet, with a hint of adobe brick, opens with a somewhat medicinal aroma but that blows off quickly enough to reveal a medium- to full-bodied wine with chunky tannins that give the wine a rustic note. On the nose and palate some black fruits but those overshadowed by barnyard-like aromas and flavors. Drink up. Score 78. K

  2. By far the best wine out there for under 50 bucks. I pay about $21 at my local shop. Open it several hours before drinking and give it some good air. You can drink a lot more of this wine than most others due to it’s low sulfite content and long aging. It doesn’t make you sick at all as other wines may.

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