While sulphites are debated, particularly with regard to headaches, it should be noted that they are naturally present in all wines. With the "no added sulphite" label, you can be sure to find a champagne with no risk of headaches that will amaze you during your great tasting moments!
It may seem surprising, but non-sulphite champagnes actually have sulphites (sulphur derivatives). This is why it is important to note that this type of champagne is labelled "no added sulphite". Sulphites are naturally present in all wines and play a number of essential roles in their making, including that of preservative. Yet, champagne is one of the wines with the lowest sulphite content thanks to a specific characteristic it possesses...
Sulphites are chemical compounds derived from sulphur. They are present in grapes, regardless of the grape variety or the region in which they are grown. The Champagne region is no exception to the rule and must work with naturally sulphited wines.
Sulphites also play an important role in the champagne winemaking process. One of their roles is to protect the wine from oxidation and to avoid imbalance. As antifungals and antiseptics, sulphites block the development of unwanted bacteria to allow the winemaker to better control the alcoholic fermentation. In addition, they help the fermentation to take place in the best possible conditions as they develop the yeasts necessary for it to function properly. Finally, sulphites favour the aromas and tannins as they contribute to the decomposition of the grapes, thus preserving all the sensory qualities of the champagne throughout the production process. Depending on what the winemaker wishes to produce, sulphites may be added during the vinification process.
Another specificity of the Champagne region is related to the wine sulphite content. Since 2005, the legislation imposes the mention "contains sulphites" on all cuvées labels exceeding 10mg/l. You can therefore see this mention on most bottles on the market. Although it is impossible to determine the exact sulphur content, it should be noted that champagne is sulphited on a small scale due to carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide acts as a preservative to protect against oxidation, which allows the winemaker to avoid over-sulphiting the champagne.