Organic food products have taken the markets by storm but what about organic wine? Though not seemingly overnight, organic wine is gaining popularity slowly but steadily. It appears organic wines are finally carving out a niche for themselves and drinkers are reaping the rewards.
So what is organic wine and what makes it different to non-organic wine? There are two phases to winemaking: growing the grapes and turning those grapes into wine. Therefore, wines can either be labelled as organic or “wine made from organically grown grapes”.
Organic wine means that it’s been made from grapes grown in accordance with organic farming, excluding the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides, but this can vary from country to country.
It’s worth noting that “organic” doesn’t necessarily imply that a wine doesn’t have additives. There are a number of additives such as yeast, egg whites, and animal enzymes that are allowed in organic wines.
So is organic wine worth it? Take a look at five reasons why you should consider opening a bottle of organic wine the next time you fancy a glass.
Benefits of organic wine
Organic wine is better for the environment because of the way the grapes are grown. Organic farming practices to grow the grapes are inarguably better for the environment, future use of the land, and the health of the vintner. The environment is certainly in a much better health, than if you were spraying poisons all over the place, and the grapes certainly taste a whole lot better, meaning that in the hands of a skilled winemaker, the wine can definitely taste better.
To help fend off the weeds and bug, organic farmers work along with nature by enriching their vineyard’s biodiversity. For example, they will introduce some cover crops to provide a habitat for beneficial insects that are the natural enemy of problem species. Another method is to have small sheep graze between the vine rows, eating the grass and weeds. In this way, the vineyard becomes a self-regulating, natural ecosystem, which is able to combat problems intrinsically and eliminates the need for artificial, and potentially toxic, chemicals.
To uphold their organic certification, vineyards need to be audited annually by independent third-party organisations. This helps ensure that the grapes that they grow comply with the strict standards of both the particular certifying body and the department of agriculture. It is against the law for a wine producer to sell or promote its wine as organic if it is not certified. Being so closely regulated gives the consumer the confidence to know what they’re buying and drinking.
When it comes to organic wine, just like with any alcohol, excessive amounts are harmful and can leave you with a nasty hangover. Wine-induced hangovers are generally attributed to sulphites, preservatives which are added to non-organic wine to prevent it from spoiling, oxidising and ageing too quickly. In general, organic wine producers use a lower level of sulphites in the production process, which means they are less likely to contribute to hangovers. However, it’s nearly impossible to suggest that it will give you no hangover.
For most people, the choice to drink an organic wine usually comes down to taste. As with most organic produce, be it beef, eggs, or fruit, the flavours are inherent, complex, pure, and natural. It’s argued that organic food nourishes you in a way that no conventionally grown food can, and therefore the same can be said of organic wine.
So are there any drawbacks to organic wine?
The main drawback is to do with the preservation and stabilisation of the wine. If there are no chemical preservatives or sulphites used in it, then then the wine is going to have a very short shelf life and is not going to be stable. Because of this, most of the producers will use a few preservatives and sulphites in organic wine to give it a longer shelf life.
Another drawback is its price. Avoiding pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides means that crops are more vulnerable to disease and pests. This can result in lower crop yields and upping the price to winemakers and, therefore, the consumers.
However, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t let price get in the way of a good bottle of wine.
Meet local winemakers, including organic wine producer Blind Corner, at our Market Day. Click here to learn more.