An organic wine label signifies your bottle of wine was made using grapes grown without artificial or synthetic chemicals. Meeting the qualifying criteria is a selective process, and organic wines are great for those who want to avoid consuming chemicals and still enjoy high-quality wine!
Let’s break down the facts. We’ll cover what makes organic wine organic, why you should or shouldn’t care, and where the best places are to find great organic wines.
What is Organic Wine?
Since organic wine is inherently made from organically sourced grapes, the grapes must be sourced from organic farms. An organic farm excludes using artificial chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides. Although these are the guidelines in the United States, organic farming regulations vary in every country.
The second phase of wine production primarily revolves around the fermentation of grapes into the end product we ultimately enjoy. In this phase, several inputs go into the vinification process. Inputs typically range from fertilizers, pesticides, and growth promoters during the growing process. So how do wines remain organic during the second phase of production?
Organic Wine Fertilization Alternatives
Instead of fertilizer, organic wines are made with compost, compost teas, green manure, and cover crops. They also rely on mechanical weeding, mowing around the vines, mulching, and companion planting. To be considered a USDA Certified Organic wine, the ingredients must be specifically allowed and not exceed five percent of the total wine. Also, sulfites are not permitted to be added to the wine for organic certification in the United States. It’s important to note that wine naturally contains sulfites, so just because a wine is organic doesn’t mean it will be low or sulfite-free. However, if sulfites are artificially added into a wine bottle, that wine will no longer be certified as an organic wine.
Organic wines also prohibit the use of any GMOs or non-permitted additives. One of the most notable factors in organic wines is the omission of coloring agents. These coloring agents are concentrated wine additives such as Mega Purple and flavorings of caramel and malic acid. When you see the label “Made with Organically Grown Grapes,” it means that although the wine is made with organic grapes, it didn’t meet all the organic certification requirements and can contain sulfur dioxide.
Why Organic Wine is Important
Knowing what you put into your body is essential, and wine should not be an exception. Organic wines contain no genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or synthetic additives (dyes that improve the color).
Organic Wine and its Natural Color
An organic wine’s color is, you guessed it, all-natural, containing no added sulfites. Sulfites are sulfur compounds, and while there are no direct studies that link health concerns to added sulfites, many people find it important to be conscious of its consumption.
Why Does Most Wine Use Added Sulfites
Non-organic winemakers will add extra sulfites to make the wine last longer. A sulfite-free bottle will have 10 mg or less of sulfites.
Organic Wine and Sugar
Organic wines have less sugar (less sugar anecdotally means fewer headaches, inflammation, and energy crashes). Although there are natural sugars in grapes, organic winemakers do not add any sugar to improve the taste. By doing this, the wine's caloric value naturally decreases. Also, there is typically a lower alcohol content in organic wines, allowing you to enjoy the taste and not worry about that next-day hangover!
Organic wines support sustainable organic farming and production methods. These production methods typically include the use of cover crops, green manures, animal manures, animal grazing, water conservation, use of renewable resources, and even crop rotations. Implementing these sustainable methods helps keep the soil fertile, maintain better quality topsoil, naturally manage weeds and insects, and reduce harmful bacteria by promoting biodiversity overall.
How Much Does Organic Wine Cost?
If you need another reason to try organic wines, they are typically cheaper because they ferment faster. Ferment faster? It means the growers don’t have to age the wine in barrels. But you should also know that since organic wine is “fresher,” it will not age as well, so enjoy the bottle as soon as you open it (and, of course, wait for it to breathe).
The Difference Between Vegan and Organic Wine
It is important to know the difference between organic and vegan wines. As previously mentioned, organic wines follow strict guidelines to achieve their organic certification. However, vegan wines go through a unique clarification process, where the use of a special agent allows the removal of sediment. Since animal-based products are used to make most finding agents, those wines are not suitable for a vegan lifestyle. Vegan wines typically use a special fining agent called Bentonite, an inert clay, but the process takes a little longer. Vegan wines must ensure that they are 100 percent animal-free during the production process, not including the animal manure used while growing the grapes since it is not actively farmed from an animal.
To sum it up, just because a wine is vegan does not mean it’s organic. And just because a wine is organic does not mean it’s vegan!
Organic Wine Recommendation
Wine Insiders is here for you to offer the highest quality organic wines, spanning an extensive collection of reds and whites. Our organic wines are carefully selected. Some are even part of our exclusive Martha Stewart collection, including award-winning customer favorites. One of our best-selling organic wines is the 2016 Cottonwood Creek Organic White Blend, offering a vibrant and fruit-forward organic white blend from California.
Be sure to join the Wine Insiders Club and enjoy the simplest way to keep your shelf stocked with excellent artisanal wine from around the globe! The wines included in our club can’t be found anywhere else and are exclusive to club members. Members get exclusive perks, such as:
- A comprehensive look at the varietals, producers, and regions that are featured in your wine club shipment
- In-depth tasting notes included for each wine in your shipment. You’ll get flavor profiles, serving tips, and pairings for each wine we’ve selected.
- FREE surprise wine accessory gifts included with select shipments
What are you waiting for? Sit back, relax, and enjoy the fresh taste of our organic wines, sent right to your door!