Why drink organic wine and where to find it | Food

There was a time when people, both in the wine trade and the general consumer, actively avoided organic wines, if they even knew they existed in the first place.

But according to the most recent figures from the 2014 Australian Organic Market Report, organic wine is on the rise among wine lovers, accounting for 6.9% of the total organic market in Australia, with organic grape production increasing by 120 % between 2011 and 2014.

Thanks in part to an increase in the number of talented young winemakers actively seeking organically grown grapes to make their wines, and a fortuitous increase in beards, tortoiseshell glasses, farmers markets and small bars at wine, organic wines are finally carving out a niche for themselves. And drinkers reap the rewards.

Organic wine is wine made from grapes grown without the use of artificial or synthetic chemicals, such as herbicides and pesticides. To ward off weeds and insects, organic farmers work with nature, rather than against it, by enhancing the biodiversity of their vineyard. For example, they introduce cover crops to provide habitat for beneficial insects that are the natural enemy of problematic species, or graze small sheep between rows of vines, eating grass and weeds. In this way, the vineyard becomes a self-regulating natural ecosystem, capable of inherently combating problems and eliminating the need for artificial and potentially toxic chemicals.

Organic Merlot, grown without pesticides. Photography: Daniel Honan/The Guardian.

These days, you’ll no doubt find many examples of organic wines on the wine list of your favorite small bar or bottle shop, but to be sure that the wine you drink is organic, it must be certified. Certification is provided by an independent third-party body, which performs annual audits on vineyards that have applied for organic certification, to ensure that the grapes they grow meet the strict standards of the particular certification body and the The Minister of Agriculture. It is illegal for a wine producer to sell or promote their wine as organic if it is not certified.

There are two leading organic certification bodies in Australia that most winemakers will use to prove their wine is organic. These are the Australian Certified Organic (ACO) and the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA). Look for the particular certification body’s logo, which in most cases will be printed somewhere on the wine label. It’s your assurance that what you’re drinking is actually organic.

Just because a wine is organic doesn’t mean it’s somehow healthier for you. The environment is certainly much healthier than if you were spraying poisons everywhere, and the grapes certainly taste much better, which means that in the hands of a skilled winemaker, wine can certainly taste better, but organic wine always contains alcohol, which, of course, is harmful in excess.

Saying that, organic wine contains half the legal maximum limit of sulfur dioxide (220) – a common preservative in wine that’s used to inhibit or kill unwanted yeasts and bacteria, and the main culprit of those hangovers. shocking woods the next day.

The maximum allowable limit of “pres 220” in Australian wine is 300 parts per million (ppm). For Australian certified organic wine, it’s 150 ppm. To give some context, most dry wines generally don’t exceed 200 ppm, and dried fruits can contain between 500 and 3000 ppm. If you’re overly sensitive to sulfur, drinking organic wines can be a “healthier” choice and will generally make day-after declarations about a sober future much less necessary.

Hunter Valley organic wine harvest.
Hunter Valley organic wine harvest. Photography: Daniel Honan/The Guardian.

For most people, the choice to drink organic wine usually comes down to taste. As with most organic produce, whether it’s beef, eggs, apples, or dare I say kale, the flavors are inherent, complex, pure, and delicious. Organic food nourishes you in a way that no conventionally grown food can, and the same can be said for organic wine. Many sommeliers like to serve these types of wines in their restaurants because they taste great and tend to pair well with food.

But don’t take my word for it…here are some certified organic wines you can research and try for yourself.

Organic wine recommendations

Rosnay 2014 – Freedom White, Canowindra, NSW
This Semillon/Chardonnay blend revolves around bright lines of fruit and acid over soft, smooth textures, no oak $18

Baby fry 2014 – Barossa Valley Joven, Barossa Valley, SA
This homage to a Spanish adventure exudes aromas of spicy meat over the juicy textures of ripe red fruit $25

Correction: This article originally referred to Gemtree 2012 – Uncut Shiraz, McLaren Vale, SA as organic. This winery’s mainline wines are certified organic, but the uncut shiraz is still in conversion and awaiting certification.

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