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Sulfites in Alcohol: Are There Any Drinks Without Sulfites?

Sulfites in Alcohol: Are There Any Drinks Without Sulfites?

⏱️ TL:DR ∙ Article in 20s

Sulfites are common sulfur preservatives regularly found in wines, beers and ciders. They typically cause negative reactions like headaches, asthma, and hives by triggering a cascading histamine response. Spirits like vodka and gin have fewer sulfites than wine and beer, but new laws require "contains sulfites" labels when levels are high, Sulphites are getting easier to avoid if you know what to look for. Although all wine has some sulfites from the natural fermentation process, there's often more in dry white wines. To limit excess sulfites, check the labels of what you buy and try to pick wines under 10mg/L sulfites, or choose clear spirits over beer and wine.

Do you ever experience headaches, congestion, or other unpleasant reactions when drinking alcohol? If so, you may have a sensitivity to sulfites or histamines, common additives used in many alcoholic beverages. The good news is that with the right information, you can enjoy alcohol again without negative effects.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explain exactly what sulfites and histamines are, why they cause problems for some people, and most importantly, which types of alcohol you can safely drink to avoid reactions. We've done the research so you can relax and savor drinks that mesh with your body chemistry and sensitivities.

Whether you want to prevent headaches from red wine, congestion from beer, or other symptoms, we have the tips and recommendations you need to raise a glass without worry. Let's get started on determining your ideal alcohol-without-histamine cocktail!

What Are Sulfites In Alcohol?

Sulfites in alcohol - also known as sulphites - are sulfur dioxide compounds that occur naturally in certain ingredients used to make alcoholic drinks. Sulfites help "prevent the growth of the bacteria that make the drink go cloudy and literally turn the alcohol to vinegar."

Many people believe sulphites added to drinks like wine and beer causes headaches. While there are some studies that disprove this, many people still want to avoid excessive sulfites when they can.

In more serious situations, sulfites can cause allergy-like reactions or intolerances. Common symptoms include:

  • wheezing, tightness in the chest (more likely in those with asthma)
  • hay fever symptoms
  • hives
  • anaphylaxis (rare cases, the most severe type of allergic reaction)

Now that you have a better understanding of what it is, you probably want to know if your favorite alcoholic beverages have sulfite in them. Does vodka have sulfites? Does tequila have sulfites? Does whiskey have sulfites? Does beer have sulfites?

Below, we'll let you see for yourself with a handy chart.

Does Vodka, Tequila, Beer, or Whiskey Have Sulfites?

The bad news is that alcoholic beverages with sulfites can cause an allergic reaction. The good news? You can find alcohol without sulfites!

Below is a comprehensive list of different alcoholic drinks, their brands and whether they contain sulfites or not. It's important to note that labeling laws are different in each country. Some places have to have "sulfites included" if they surpass a certain percentage.

While many of the beers, lagers, and ales listed below are shown as "not containing sulfites" this means that there are no added sulfites included on the label. It's a good rule of thumb that beer does naturally include sulfites, but not enough to be included on the label like other drinks.

 

Drink Name Brand Drink Type Common Size Alcohol percentage Contains Sulphites? Sulphite Level
Absolut Vodka Absolut Vodka 70 cl 40% No
Angry Orchard Crisp Apple Cider Angry Orchard Cider 500 ml 5% Yes The level of sulphites in Angry Orchard ciders is about equal to that found in an average glass of red wine, and a bit less than an average glass of white wine.
Aviation Gin Aviation Gin Gin 70 cl 42% No
Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum Bacardi Rum 70 cl 37.50% No
Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur Baileys Liqueur 70 cl 17% No
Balvenie 12 Year Old American Oak Whisky Balvenie Whisky 70 cl 43% No
Barefoot Shiraz Wine Barefoot Red Wine 75 cl 13.50% Yes
Barefoot Chardonnay Wine Barefoot White Wine 75 cl 13.50% Yes
Beck's Lager Beck's Lager 275 ml 4.80% No
Birra Moretti Premium Lager Birra Moretti Lager 33 cl 4.60% No
Blue Moon Belgian White Blue Moon Ale 330 ml 5.40% No
Bombay Sapphire Gin Bombay Sapphire Gin 70 cl 40% No
Brewdog Punk IPA Brewdog IPA 33 cl 5.60% No
Bud Light Seltzer Bud Light Seltzer 12 fl oz 5% No
Bud Light Premium Lager Budweiser Lager 30 cl 3.50% No
Budweiser Premium Lager Budweiser Lager 33 cl 4.50% No
Busch Beer Busch Lager 32 fl oz 4.30% No
Captain Morgan Spiced Gold Rum Captain Morgan Rum 70 cl 40% No
Captain Morgan White Rum Captain Morgan Rum 70 cl 40% No
Carlsberg Danish Pilsner Carlsberg Lager 33 cl 3.80% No
Casillero Del Diablo Malbec Wine Casillero Del Diablo Red Wine 75 cl 13.50% Yes Any wine containing more than 10 Parts Per Million (ppm) must state ‘Contains Sulphites’ on the label. In practice, this is in almost all wine produced. There are legal limits set for total sulphur dioxide depending on the sugar level of the wine. We comply with these legal requirements (ex. the permitted range starts at a maximum 200 ppm for white and Rose wines and maximum 150 ppm for reds with 5g or less of sugar)
Casillero Del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc Wine Casillero Del Diablo White Wine 75 cl 13.50% Yes Any wine containing more than 10 Parts Per Million (ppm) must state ‘Contains Sulphites’ on the label. In practice, this is in almost all wine produced. There are legal limits set for total sulphur dioxide depending on the sugar level of the wine. We comply with these legal requirements (ex. the permitted range starts at a maximum 200 ppm for white and Rose wines and maximum 150 ppm for reds with 5g or less of sugar)
Cazcabel Blanco Tequila Cazcabel Tequila 70 cl 38% No
Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur Chambord Liqueur 70 cl 16.50% No
Chivas Regal 12 Year Old Whisky Chivas Regal Whisky 70 cl 40% No
Ciroc Vodka Ciroc Vodka 70 cl 40% No
Corona Extra Corona Beer 33 cl 4.50% No
Crown Royal Black Whisky Crown Royal Whisky 75 cl 45% No
Crown Royal Canadian Whisky Crown Royal Whisky 70 cl 40% No
Dead Man’s Fingers Spiced Rum Dead Man’s Fingers Rum 70 cl 37.50% No
Desperados Tequila Lager Desperados Lager 33 cl 5.90% No
Disaronno Liqueur Disaronno Liqueur 70 cl 28% No
Don Julio Reposado Tequila Don Julio Tequila 70 cl 38% No
Echo Falls Pink Gin Echo Falls Gin 70 cl 37.50% No
Estrella Damm Beer Estrella Damm Lager 330 ml 4.60% No
Fireball Cinnamon Liqueur Fireball Whisky 70 cl 33% No
Glenfiddich 12 Year Old Whisky Glenfiddich Whisky 70 cl 40% No
Glenmorangie Lasanta 12 Year Old Whisky Glenmorangie Whisky 70 cl 43% No
Godiva Chocolate Liqueur Godiva Liqueur 75 cl 15% No
Gordon’s London Dry Gin Gordon’s Gin 70 cl 37.50% No
Gordon’s Premium Pink Gin Gordon’s Gin 70 cl 37.50% No
Greenall’s Original London Dry Gin Greenall’s Gin 70 cl 37.50% No
Grey Goose Vodka Grey Goose Vodka 70 cl 40% No
Havana Club Anejo 3 Year Old Rum Havana Rum 70 cl 40% No
Heineken Premium Lager Heineken Lager 33 cl 5% No
Hendricks Gin Hendricks Gin 70 cl 41.40% No
Hop House 13 Lager Hop House Lager 33 cl 5% No
Hpnotiq Blue Liqueur Hpnotiq Liqueur 70 cl 17% No
Jack Daniels Old No.7 Whiskey Jack Daniels Whisky 70 cl 40% No
Jagermeister Liqueur Jagermeister Liqueur 70 cl 35% No
Jameson Black Barrel Whisky Jameson Whisky 70 cl 40% No
Jameson Irish Whisky Jameson Whisky 70 cl 40% No
Johnnie Walker Black Label Whisky Johnnie Walker Whisky 70 cl 40% No
Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila Jose Cuervo Tequila 70 cl 40% No
Kahlua Liqueur Kahlua Liqueur 70 cl 20% No
Kopparberg Pear Cider Kopparberg Cider 50 cl 4% Yes The amount of sulphites varies between different products and batches, but most of Kopparberg ciders contain on average 50-70 mg/l, expressed as total SO2.
Kopparberg Strawberry & Lime Cider Kopparberg Cider 50 cl 4% Yes
The amount of sulphites varies between different products and batches, but most of Kopparberg ciders contain on average 50-70 mg/l, expressed as total SO2.
Kraken Black Spiced Rum Kraken Rum 70 cl 40% No
La Belle Etoile Pinot Noir Wine La Belle Etoile Red Wine 75 cl 12% Yes
Magners Apple Cider Magners Cider 56.8 cl 4.50% Yes Levels of sulphites in Mangers ciders vary depending on flavour and packaging type (glass, can etc). For Magners Original Can approx. sulphite level is 20ppm.
Malibu Rum Malibu Rum 70 cl 21% No
Michelob Ultra Michelob Lager 330 ml 4.20% No
Monkey 47 Gin Monkey 47 Gin 50 cl 47% No
Old Mout Kiwi & Lime Cider Old Mout Cider 50 cl 4% Yes
Peroni Nastro Azzurro Peroni Lager 33 cl 5.10% No
Pimms No.1 Cup Liqueur Pimms Liqueur 70 cl 25% No
Rekorderlig Apple Cider Rekorderlig Cider 50 cl 4% Yes
San Miguel Lager San Miguel Lager 33 cl 5% No
Skyy Vodka Skyy Vodka 70 cl 40% No
Smirnoff Vodka Smirnoff Vodka 70 cl 37.50% No
Sourz Cherry Liqueur Sourz Liqueur 70 cl 15% No
Sourz Apple Liqueur Sourz Liqueur 70 cl 15% No
Stella Artois Apple Cidre Stella Artois Cider 50 cl 4% Yes
Stella Artois Lager Stella Artois Lager 33 cl 4.80% No
Strongbow Dark Fruits Cider Strongbow Cider 50 cl 4% Yes
Suntory Roku Gin Suntory Gin 70 cl 43% No
Thatchers Gold Cider Thatchers Cider 50 cl 4.80% Yes All of Thatchers ciders contain sulphites at less than 200 mg/L.
Thatchers Katy Cider Thatchers Cider 50 cl 7.40% Yes
All of Thatchers ciders contain sulphites at less than 200 mg/L.
The Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask Whisky The Macallan Whisky 70 cl 40% No
Wild Turkey 101 Whiskey Wild Turkey Whisky 70 cl 50.50% No

How Can I Find Out If A Drink Has Sulfites?

It's not always easy to tell if an alcoholic drink has sulfites in it, but thankfully new rules have been making it easier for consumers to find out.

The best place to check is the label. Many countries require "sulphites included" on the label. While they won't tell you how many sulphites, or to what percentage, it will at least give you an indication of if there are sulphites present.

Below are some examples of labels where sulphites are include.

Henry Weston cider with sulphites

While each label is different in its own way, they both include "sulphites" on the label. Even when we contacted manufacturers and companies directly, many wouldn't give a clear answer on how many sulphites are within their drinks, so it can be hard to get a clear number to compare.

What Alcoholic Drinks Have The Most Sulphites?

A good rule of thumb is to assume all wines and ciders have a percentage of sulphites in order to preserve the freshness of the drink.

Beer is a little bit confusing. There are naturally-occurring sulphites in beer to help inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. However, most countries only require the label to include "has sulphites" if there is a high percentage (or added sulphites on top of the naturally occurring ones).

The chart above shows "No Added Sulphites" on many of the beer options. This doesn't mean that there are no sulfites present, but the level of sulfites isn't high enough that it would warrant it to be listed on the label.

While sulfites in beer are quite likely at a very low level, they may still be present as the yeast produces it during fermentation. If you are allergic to sulfites, or have a negative reaction to them, the level could still trigger a response.

Just remember this - drinks with a higher alcohol percentage like whisky, vodka and gin will likely be without sulphites.

After new regulations were passed, the EU recommends that a "acceptable daily intake" of sulfites is 42mg per day for a 60kg female. Having said that, a medium glass of white wine contains 26mg of sulphites on average. Typically, white wine has more sulfites than red wine, but both types are often triggered for people with sulphite intolerances.

Some organic wines will be lower in sulphites, and some will call themselves "sulphite-free", although sulfites occur naturally in wine. To be "sulphite-free" under EU regulations, a wine must contain less than 10mg per litre. In practice, few people suffer a reaction to less than 20mg of wine sulfites. The maximum permitted level is 200mg per liter.

Beer usually has naturally-occurring sulfites but few had added sulphites on top of that. If you check the label, you'll likely see allergen notices for things like barley, oats, wheat and gluten, but likely not sulphites. If there is a higher percentage of sulphites, it should be listed on the label (such as Tetley's Cask).

does wine have sulphites

Final Thoughts on Sulfites in Alcohol

We hope this article gave you a better understanding of sulfites in alcohol - what they are, what they can do to your body, which alcohol drinks have them, and how to avoid them by learning what to look for on the label.

If you find that you're not allergic to sulfites - but rather, you have an alcohol allergy or Asian flush, we can help. Not only do we have the best Asian flush cure - our Asian glow pills. But, we also have a database of helpful resources on Asian glow patches, acetaldehyde foods to avoid, how to prevent red face when drinking, and sudden alcohol intolerance.

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