Have you tried Organic wines?
Less powerful hangovers, fewer chemicals, and kinder to the environment – no wonder drinking organic wine is becoming a trend.
What are Organic wines?
Organic wines are produced with organically grown grapes. In order to have organically grown grapes, a vineyard manager must implement an entirely different set of practices to maintain their vines.
Organic doesn’t imply that the wine doesn’t have additives. There is, in fact, a list of additives, including things like yeast, egg whites, and animal enzymes (like rennet in cheese) that are allowed in organic wines. Being organic doesn’t necessarily mean a wine is vegan.
There are two main definitions of an organic wine in circulation:
- Europe: “a wine made from certified organically grown grapes and vinified organically but may contain added sulphites”
- USA: “a wine made from certified organically grown grapes without added sulphites”
What are Non-Organic Wines?
Non-Organic wines can use chemicals like herbicides and fungicides in the vineyards and other additives (like sulfur or Mega Purple) in a wine. You’ll find most of the bizarre chemicals in non-organic wines are used in the vineyard. It is common to see pesticides and fungicides used in areas that are calm (low wind) and have more moisture in the air to cause fungal infections (perhaps close to a river, pond or lake). You’ll find many fungicides and pesticides being employed to kill invasive species. For instance, in Napa, a foreign bug called the glassy winged sharpshooter is a carrier of Pierce’s Disease. This particular disease basically turns vines into lepers with rotting leaves and eventually kills them.
Organic Wine Certification
Take certification from third party
Nowadays, you will no doubt find many examples of organic wines appearing on the wine list of your favourite small bar or bottle shop shelf, but to be sure that the wine you are drinking is truly organic, it must be certified. Certification is provided by an independent third-party organisation, which carries out annual audits on vineyards that have applied for organic certification, to 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 their wine as organic if it is not certified.
In Europe the Organic process for certification is managed by Ecocert and all wines approved to carry the green leaf Ecocert logo.
There are two prominent organic certifying bodies in Australia that most winegrowers will use to prove that their wine is organic. These are Australian Certified Organic (ACO) and the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA).
Organic Vitification (Grape growing)
The Growers must not use Synthetic or Artificial chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides to manage the vineyard. Instead they are encouraged to use:
- Introduction of predatory insects to manage insects which damage the Vines or grapes
- Using a “Bordeaux mixture” of water, copper sulphate and lime to combat Mildew
- Planting other plants between the vines to encourage pollination. Roses are popular at the end of the rows of vines.
- Use of manure and natural composts.
- Grazing of geese, chickens and rabbits between the vines both cuts competing plants and fertilizes naturally
Organic Vinification (Wine making)
According to Ecocert the following practises are prohibited:
- Elimination of Sulphur Dioxide by physical processes
- Sorbic acid prohibited
- Partial de-alcoholisation of wine
- Partial concentration of wines through cooling
- Sulphite levels permitted
Organic wine does contain sulphur dioxide – a common preservative in wine that is used to inhibit or kill unwanted yeasts and bacteria, and the main culprit for those shocking hangovers, the next day.
Maximum Sulphite levels allowed in Organic wine making:
Reds: 100mg/litre for reds (conventional at 150mg/L) if under 2mg/L residual sugar. 120mg/Litre for reds (conventional at 150mg/L) if over 2mg/L residual sugar
Whites: 150mg/Litre for whites and roses (conventional at 200mg/L) if under 2mg/L residual sugar. 130 mg/Litre for whites and roses (conventional 200mg/L) if over 2mg/L residual sugar.
Sweet: 270mg/Litre for sweet (without botrytis) wines (conventional at 300mg/L). 370 mg/L for sweet botrytis wines (400mg/L for conventional)
If you are overly sensitive to sulphur, then drinking organic wines can be a “healthier” choice and will usually make the next day’s declarations of a sober future a lot less necessary.
Just because a wine is organic, however, doesn’t mean that it is somehow healthier for you. The environment is certainly in 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, but organic wine still contains alcohol, which, of course, is harmful in excessive amounts. Let's be a wise buyer and user!
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It’s completely logical to think that all wine must surely be vegan. It is, after all, a drink that’s made from pressing and fermenting grapes! While the wine itself is completely fruit-based, it’s the production techniques used in the winery that can turn a vegan-friendly blend into one that vegans would want to avoid.
Organic wine has been on the market since the 80s, but at that time the quality was not appreciated. Later, the wineries adjusted the way of making wine and organic wine became one of the trendy beverages in 2009 - According to a survey by the American Restaurant Association.