What is Organic Wine?
You might have seen ‘Organic’ on a wine bottle and wondered how any wine isn’t organic. After all it’s just grapes and a bit of waiting around in the most basic sense. But its not that easy to make wine that’s consistently good. If you’re from the UK, you know that the weather can change, a lot, and quickly, and that instability, combined with various weeds and bugs, can have a huge impact on the number of grapes you can grow. That’s why over 96% of wine consumed globally isn’t organic. But some is, and the amount we’re drinking is growing, so here is the facts on what makes wine organic, and why it should be in your cupboard/wardrobe/under the bed.
What Makes Wine Organic?
So, how do you make a vegan wine? Well, it begins with farming methods. It takes a lot of time, care and attention to plant your grapes and grow them without using pesticides, herbicides and more besides. Grapes are tasty (tell us something we don’t know) and lots of bugs like a taste, so you have to be extra protective of them. The soil is also pretty great. Full of minerals, it’s a weed paradise, and they’re just waiting to grab nutrients from the grapes.
Then there is the climate. It’s much easier to grow grapes when the weather is stable. Rainy winters and warm gentle summers make for good grapes, but that’s not always how things go, especially in the times of climate change. Modern farming methods allow us to counteract these issues, but they’re not all organic practices, so winemakers are up against it!
But those who approach their wine with an organic mindset need to overcome these challenges, because they can’t use any chemicals in the growing process that aren’t natural. Those grapes have got to put in the hard yards themselves.
Then there is the winemaking process. Once the grapes are free of the vine, it’s wine time, but many makers will incorporate some chemical support here too. To keep things organic, European winemakers can add sulphites to keep the wine fresh, but that’s it, and in America, they can’t even do that!
After you’ve navigated the weather, the weeds, and the winemaking, you can proudly pour yourself a glass of vino-rganic!
Does It Taste Different?
The great news is no, they don’t. There is so much to great winemaking that the flavour, textures and such are really determined by the producer and the general climate, so organic wines have all they need to be just as good as their non-organic counterparts. Because of the care and attention required to make an organic wine you might even find many of the bottles are better than others!
The downside is in price. An organic wine does take that extra element of time and patience, so they can be (but aren’t always) a little more expensive than their non-organic peers. That being said, you’re almost guaranteed quality wine at a certain level, so you know it’s worth it!
Is It Healthier?
This is a bit of a tricky one. Any pesticides that are added to the process in non-organic wine are controlled strictly when it comes to the end product. That being said, it’s impossible to take them out entirely, so trace amounts do remain. These shouldn’t have any effect on you whatsoever, but studies are conflicting.
In terms of ‘healthier wine’ organic bottles aren’t better for you in any provable sense. They’re certainly better for the planet through a reduction in pesticides entering the ecosystem, so if you’re asking about the health of mother earth, yes, they’re healthier.
Is It the Same as Natural Wine?
Natural, or low-intervention wine, is wine that adds as little as possible to the wine making process. While many natural wines will be organic, the two aren’t the same thing. Natural wine is more of a philosophical concept of the winemaker, choosing to pick organic grapes and then not adding sulphites in the bottling process. As mentioned above, sulphites don’t mean a wine isn’t organic, but natural winemakers prefer to do as little as possible to alter the wine’s natural transformation. This can lead to funky wines because the microorganisms that do the work aren’t controlled in any way.
Some Great Examples