The rooibos tea latte at Starbucks is my jam on days I am too hyped up for caffeine, so when I heard about a South African company using rooibos chips as a wine preservative, my ears perked up.
Audacia Winery has patented the technique, which reduced traditional preservatives like sulfur dioxide by using the natural one–a plus for folks like me who are technically allergic to sulfites, but drink wine anyway.
Trevor Strydom, a managing partner at Audacia, told Reuters that he, along with the company’s winemaker dropped rooibos teabags in wine to experiment with the effects. And they were pleased by the effects. While rooibos leaves are used for tea, it’s the wood chips that Audacia incorporates into its process.
Check out Strydom’s conversation with Reuters in the video, below:
Wood has long been incorporated into winemaking–think oak barrels and chips, which are thought to be more sustainable than the former–but not rooibos chips.
Rooibos has no caffeine and is low on tannins, making it a good option for winemaking. Strydom told Vice last year that the rooibos wine could cut back on headaches.
Rooibos and honeybush chips are used to make Audacia’s Merlot, which has a sulfur dioxide level of 3 mg/liter, according to wine-searcher.com. I was curious and checked my wine bottles at home, but most say “contains sulfite” and not an exact amount. But Winemaker Magazine instructs that the rule of thumb for sulfite concentration is 25 mg/l to 50 mg/l with 100 mg/l being used if you’re using moldy grapes.