As more and more people jump on the trendy organic food bandwagon, it’s no surprise that there has been an uptake in interest – and some controversy – surrounding organic wine. But similar to organic food, there is a bit of murkiness around what makes wine ‘organic’ and what the benefits of it are.
Organic Wine 101
Organic wines are made from ingredients that have been grown without all the nasty pesticides, herbicides or any other synthetic or artificial chemicals that are present in conventional winemaking. Though many people are under the misconception that this only applies to the grapes, it in fact applies to everything in the bottle – which can include things like preservatives, dyes, yeasts, added sugar and animal byproducts.
For certification in the US, organic wine has to meet certain criteria:
- Non-agricultural ingredients must be on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances and cannot exceed 5% of the total product.
- Agricultural ingredients that go into the wine, such as yeast, have to be certified as organic.
- Grapes used must be grown without the use of synthetic fertilisers, and in a manner that protects the surrounding environment and preserves the soil quality.
- Sulphites, which are commonly added in the conventional winemaking process, cannot be added.
However, these guidelines only refer to wine that is 100% organic, there are other certifications that include, ‘organic’ and ‘made with organic grapes’ which have different standards. There are other categories as well which refer to ‘biodynamic’ and ‘natural’ wines which also have their own individual meanings.
Main Reasons to Swap to Organic Wine
- Reduce allergies and intolerances by skipping those added sulphites.
- Organic wines are richer in nutrients and antioxidants.
- They are pesticide, herbicide and fungicide free.
- Skip that hangover headache!
The big selling point that people bang on about with organic wine, is the lack of a hangover the next day. This hasn’t actually been scientifically proven yet, but some people have reported significantly better hangovers the next day. Although it does heavily depend on the amount you drink!
Some organic wine drinkers out there also claim that the lack of pesticides makes the grapes taste better. Others will shout about the nutritional values being higher until they’re blue in the face. Then there are the ones who will tell you that since organic is better for the planet, it must be better for you as well.
Then we get to the mold and sulphite police – those wine drinkers who detest the addition of nasty bits like added sulphites in conventional wine. They believe that organic wine reduces the risk for potential allergic reactions such as hives, headaches, and difficulty breathing.
Organic wine isn’t going to protect you from hangovers or provide you with noteworthy nutritional benefits, but it does taste good and it does mean you’re putting fewer chemicals into your body which is a plus. Organic wine simply comes down to personal taste, price point and some environmental considerations.
The very best advice about organic wine is to go out and try some different varieties for yourself and make an informed decision based on your own flavour palette.