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Potassium metabisulfite is a common wine or must additive, in which it forms sulfur dioxide gas (SO2). This both prevents most wild microorganism from growing, and it acts as a potent antioxidant, protecting both the color and delicate flavors of wine. Winemaking equipment is sanitized by spraying with a solution.
Potassium metabisulfite is sometimes used in the brewing industry to inhibit the growth of wild yeasts, bacteria, and fungi. This is called 'stabilizing'. It is also used to neutralize chloramine that has been added to tap water at the source as a disinfectant. It is used both by homebrewers and commercial brewers alike. It is not used as much for brewing beer, because the wort is almost always boiled, which kills most microorganisms. It can also be added to strike water (the water used to mash the malted barley) in order to remove chloramines which can cause phenolic off flavors in beer.
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