Why do we want organic wines?
Not all farming practices are created equal. In fact, traditional farming is terrible for the land. It wreaks havoc causing climatic, toxic and fertility problems for wide swaths of land. Organic farming, on the other hand, and organic food-manufacturing in general, is a gentler alternative that can actually benefit the land and ecosystem at large. This applies to organic wine, too. Here’s everything you need to know about why organic wines are a great choice.
What is Organic Wine?
The definition of organic wine varies throughout the world, but the main thing to remember is that organic wine refers to the farming methods, not necessarily the winemaking process. Organic farming (including viticulture) generally prohibits the use of artificial chemicals on the land. This does not, generally, extend to additives used in the winemaking process.
Chemicals, like fertilizers, herbicides and fungicides, are common in agriculture and are, frankly, terrible for the land itself. Fertilizer increases yield, meaning vines produce more grapes. This doesn’t lead to better wine. Also, fertilizers damage the soil over time. They throw off a soil’s pH balance, increasing acidity and, over time, making the soil infertile. They also degrade natural ingredients in the soil that other plants need to grow and that encourage biodiversity.
Organic wine uses grapes grown on land that only uses natural processes and treatments. This varies the landscape and creates one that is healthier in the long run. These wines will still have sulphites (which are a natural byproduct of fermentation) and additives but will not have traces of toxic chemicals found in non-organically farmed vineyards.
The Major Difference Between Organic Wines you Must Know
There is a very important difference between organic and non-organic wines, especially when it comes to wines from the U.S. versus elsewhere.
In Europe and Canada, a wine is certified organic if the consumer is guaranteed the grapes were grown organically. Sulfites may have been added in addition to those that develop naturally during the winemaking process.
In the United States, however, if a wine is certified organic, it means that the consumer is guaranteed the grapes were grown organically and no additional sulphites were added.
Sulphites stabilize a wine, resulting in a longer shelf and cellar life. There are more added sulphites found in white wines than red, because reds are more stable by nature (thanks to tannins). A U.S. wine that is certified organic will not last, so buyers should buy younger organic wines and drink them quickly.
Are Organic Wines Healthier?
Wine is both an intoxicant and addictive so let’s be real: no wine is “healthy.” That said, organic wines are healthier for the earth and will contain fewer chemicals. In regions where organic farming is prevalent, organic wines will have far fewer traces of chemicals. In addition to chemicals that get into grapes from actual use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, there’s also soil degradation from ground and rainwater runoff from local, non-organic plots. As a whole, though, organic wines will have fewer chemicals.
Organic wines have additives, including some made from animals. They are not “healthier” from a standpoint of a plant-based diet. Common additives include egg whites, fish bladders (isinglass) and casein (milk protein). There are also chemical additives in organic wines.
Why are Organic Wines More Expensive?
You may have noticed that an organic and non-organic wine of the same quality level, grapes, vintage and region have a price difference of a few dollars. Chances are you’ve wondered why. There are a few reasons.
First, to get the organic designation, vineyards have to make extensive changes in practices, equipment and processes. This is costly and drives the price.
Second, organic farming can be more labor intensive. More, skilled laborers increases winemaking costs.
Finally, the certification is costly, which of course raises the bottle price.
That said, buying organic wine is an investment in self and the environment, and the few-dollar price difference is negligible.
Organic Wines to try
Want to try delicious wines made in an eco-friendly way? Here are some excellent choices!
For white: Who doesn’t love New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc? This signature style, beloved around the world, is an organic treat!
For rosé: Dive into this deep, chewy organic rosé made from prolonged skin contact. You
For red: Georgia is one of the oldest wine-making regions in the world. The wines are natural and made with finesse. You can’t go wrong with this delicious, organic Saperavi.
For sparkling: Moscato d’Asti is spritzy, refreshing and low alcohol. It’s the perfect pre- or post-dinner sipper and the fact that it’s Italian and organic means guaranteed quality.