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A bottle of Pugliese Vineyards 2010 Reserve Merlot at the Cutchogue tasting room on Tuesday. (Credit: Vera Chinese)
A bottle of Pugliese Vineyards 2010 Reserve Merlot at the Cutchogue tasting room on Tuesday. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

What is most unusual about a bottle of Pugliese Vineyards 2010 Merlot Reserve is the lack of two words found on most wine labels in this country since 1987: contains sulfites.

That is not say the wine doesn’t contain the compound, all wines do, though it has not been added to this particular vintage. The Pugliese also offered a 2007 merlot without added sulfite.

“People were coming in and saying I can’t taste because I am allergic to sulfites,” Domenica Pugliese, who parents Patricia and Ralph founded the vineyard, told us during a recent tasting room visit. “It’s been very popular. People come back just for that.”

Wall Street Journal wine scribe Will Lyons pondered the question of whether or not sulfites in wine are actually harmful last year, though he doesn’t make an argument for either conclusion.

Some people (1 in 100 according to WebMD) are in fact allergic to sulfites, particularly asthmatics. However, proponents of the additive, used as a preservative, may note that dried fruit sometimes contain a higher percentage of sulfites than red wine, Lyons said.

Still, many people claim a sensitive to sulfites, myself included. So whether or not sulfites are causing your headaches the morning after, here’s to Pugliese for offering at least one sulfite-free option.

The wine, handpicked from some of the Main Road vineyard’s oldest vines, retails for $29.99 in the tasting room.

This is a smooth, drinkable wine, with hints of black cherry. It’s the kind of wine that goes down so easy, one would be wise to keep count of how many times they fill their glass.

While this wine is one of the vineyard’s most expensive, its worth mentioning that Pugliese’s portfolio contains some of the most affordable on the North Fork. They are also the only to offer sangiovese, the Italian grape which is the main varietal in chianti.

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