Is organic wine really better for you than regular wine?
Simply put, organic wine is made from grapes grown and vinified organically.
This means that the farming practices used to produce the grapes do not rely on artificial chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. In the winery, chemicals like “Mega-Purple”, commonly used in conventional wines to deepen the color of red wines, are not allowed when making organic wines. But organic wine is not limited to this basic definition. Ahead, we explain the nuances of organic wine, consider whether organic wine is healthier than regular wine, and tell you what to consider when choosing organic wines.
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Does organic wine contain sulphites?
Legally, what qualifies as “organic” differs by country, so if you’re hoping to avoid wine containing sulfites, drinking organic wine from the United States is your best bet. Organic wines from European countries or Canada may contain sulphites, in these countries the choice to include them or not is left to the individual producer.
Find a wine labeled “Made with organic grapes” rather than simply organic? This means that the grapes were grown organically and are 100% organic when picked, but sulphites or non-native yeasts may have been used in the vinification (vinification).
Is organic wine healthier than regular wine?
It is still to be debated. As with food, just because something isn’t labeled organic doesn’t necessarily mean chemicals and pesticides were used. Organic certifications are very expensive and create a prohibitive barrier to entry for small producers with less capital. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “grown with organic practices” in your local farmers’ market, it usually points to this scenario. Small wine producers may not be able to afford official certification, but they can still create high quality wines. Your local wine merchant can guide you on this.
Data on the use of chemicals and the health hazards of conventional viticultural practices are still not definitive. What we do know is that there have been multiple cases of chemical farming practices that have resulted in illness or death. Think about the links that have been made between the popular pesticide Gathering and cancer. All this to say that choosing organic wines can be a good idea.
Without harsh chemicals in the vines, the vines are more susceptible to pests. Some wineries like Honig Vineyard & Winery in Napa Valley are team up with pets to control insects in their vines. Owner Stephanie Honig’s Labrador retriever, Honey, was trained to smell vine mealybugs and identify them before the insects infest vineyards.
3 things to keep in mind when buying organic wines
Now that you’re ready to buy organic wines, keep these points in mind when selecting bottles:
Look for a wine labeled “Organic” or “Made with organic grapes” or “Biodynamic”
United States certified organic wines will always bear the USDA Organic seal. Pay attention to Demeter Biodynamic certifications as well. These indicate that the wines are organic and go the extra mile to follow special farming practices
Just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s better
Organic wines have many benefits, but one drawback that keeps coming up in the wine community is the lack of consistency in quality. Additions of sulfur are not allowed in many organic wines, but SO2 plays an important role in maintaining a “fresh” wine. Keep an open mind when trying organic wines for the first time. It may take several different bottles before you find the one you really like!
Organic wines are not necessarily vegan
Egg whites, animal by-products and different yeasts can be used during the winemaking process. Keep in mind that if you’re looking for a vegan and organic wine, you’ll want to make sure the label touts both.
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