The science behind the story:
Sulphites are used as preservatives in a wide range of foods, in particular soft drinks, sausages, burgers, and dried fruit and vegetables. These additives maintain food colour and prolong shelf-life by preventing the growth of micro-organisms.
When the gas sulphur dioxide is dissolved in a liquid, such as wine, it is known as a sulphite.
Sulphur dioxide is produced naturally when wine and beer are made and it is often added to wine to stop it from continuing to ferment in the bottle. Usually, most of the ‘head space’ in a bottle of wine (the part of the bottle not filled with wine) is sulphur dioxide.
Some people who have asthma may react to inhaling sulphur dioxide. A very few people with asthma have had an attack after drinking acidic drinks (such as fruit-based drinks) containing sulphites, but this is not thought to be very common.