As consumers become more conscious of what they consume and its impact on the environment, organic wine has become more popular. But what exactly sets organic wine apart from its regular counterpart? And is it truly better for you?
The Difference Between Organic Wine and Regular Wine
The primary difference between organic and regular wine lies in the cultivation of the grapes and the winemaking process. Organic wine is produced using grapes that are grown without the aid of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides. Organic viticulture emphasises the use of natural methods to maintain soil health and combat pests. This contrasts with many regular wines where grapes might be cultivated using a range of chemical products.
During the winemaking process, organic wine producers often limit or avoid the use of added sulphites, which are commonly used in regular wines as preservatives. While some organic wines may still contain naturally occurring sulphites, their levels are typically lower than in non-organic wines.
The Point of Organic Wine
The rise in organic wine’s popularity is not just a fleeting trend. It’s a reflection of a broader movement towards sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices. By avoiding synthetic chemicals in the vineyard, organic wine production promotes healthier soils, richer biodiversity and reduces the chemical load on the environment. Many proponents believe that organic practices allow the true character of the vineyard to shine through in the wine offering a more authentic and terroir-driven taste.
Is Organic Wine Better for You?
The health implications of organic versus regular wine are a topic of debate. Some studies suggest that organic wines have higher levels of antioxidants, such as resveratrol which have been linked to various health benefits. The reduced use of chemicals in cultivation and lower sulphite content might also appeal to those with sensitivities or those looking to reduce their intake of synthetic additives.
However, it’s essential to remember that wine, whether organic or not, is an alcoholic beverage and isn’t healthy if over-consumed.
Why is Organic Wine Different?
Beyond the cultivation and production methods, many wine enthusiasts claim that organic wines offer a different sensory experience. The absence of synthetic chemicals in the vineyard and during winemaking might allow for a clearer expression of the grape and its growing environment. This can result in wines with more pronounced and unique flavour profiles, reflecting the true essence of their origin.
Who Certifies Organic Wine?
The most recognised certification body in the UK is the Soil Association. This organisation has stringent standards for organic production and wines bearing their certification have undergone rigorous checks to ensure they meet these standards. Other countries have their own certifying bodies, such as the USDA in the United States. When purchasing organic wine, it’s always a good idea to look for a certification label to ensure its authenticity.
Is Organic Wine Over-hyped?
Some winemakers, such as a leading Chianti estate, critique what they consider to be over-hyped organic viticulture. The estate argues that while organic farming methods are marketed as more sustainable, they are not necessarily better for the environment or for the quality of the wine. They contend that many conventional farming practices are just as sustainable and can produce better results. The estate believes that the focus should be on sustainable farming as a whole, rather than solely promoting organic methods.
Organic wine offers an alternative for those seeking a more environmentally-friendly and potentially health-conscious choice. Its distinct cultivation and production methods not only benefit the earth but also might provide a unique tasting experience for the wine lover.