Savoring Sustainability with Organic Wine

Savoring Sustainability with Organic Wine

Drinking wine is more than just drinking a drink; it's an experience. And, while you can just snag the cheapest bottle on the shelf, there’s something to be said for organic wines, which typically sit at a slightly higher price point. 

Organic wine is made from grapes grown without artificial pesticides or fertilizers. As such, it promotes a healthier environment and a purer taste. These wines are also free of glyphosate, which has been found in many well-known wines thanks to roundup spray used in the production process. Glyphosate may have cancer-causing properties, which makes this just one good reason to go for organic wines instead!

This article explores the world of organic wine, discussing how to identify it, its production, its benefits, and how it aligns with a natural lifestyle for you.

How to Identify Organic Wine

As a wine enthusiast who cares about quality, knowing how to identify organic wines is just as important as learning what the best natural treats are for your dog. So, how can you tell if a wine is genuinely organic? 

One of the most reliable ways to identify which wines align with your organic goals is to become familiar with the organic certification labels that appear on bottles. When browsing through your local wine store or perusing the wine list in a restaurant, look for recognized organic certification labels. There are several, and they vary depending on the country of origin of the wine.

For example, if you're looking at American wines, watch out for a "USDA Organic" seal. This seal signifies that 100% of the grapes used in the wine were organically grown. It's awarded by the United States Department of Agriculture, ensuring no artificial or synthetic preservatives were used and the process adhered to the USDA’s stringent regulations.

For European wines, keep your eyes peeled for the 'Euro leaf' label—a green, leaf-shaped logo made up of small stars. This indicates that the wine adheres to the European Union's regulations for organic wine.

Australian organic wines are recognized by the 'Australian Certified Organic' label, which ensures the wine has met the highest standards for organic production set by Australia.

Criteria for Producing Organic Wine

Making organic wine isn't as simple as just growing grapes without chemicals. There are strict rules and regulations that winemakers must follow to earn the "organic" label. These criteria ensure that every sip of organic wine is a taste of nature's best.

Frey Vineyards in California is a great example of a winery committed to organic practices. They prioritize natural pest control, hand-tend their vines, and even hand-harvest the grapes. Their winemaking process avoids added sulfites, resulting in wines that truly reflect the pure flavors of the grapes and the land.

Understanding these criteria helps us appreciate the care and dedication that goes into producing organic wine. It's not just a beverage; it's a testament to responsible and sustainable farming practices that benefit both the environment and wine lovers. 

Organic Grape Growing

First, the grapes themselves must be grown organically. This means farmers avoid synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, instead relying on natural methods to keep the vines healthy. Some vineyards even use beneficial insects, birds, and even sheep to help control pests and maintain a balanced ecosystem.

Organic Winemaking

The winemaking process must also adhere to organic standards. This means that everything added to the wine, from yeast to preservatives, must be organic-certified. Even the amount of sulfites, a common preservative, is limited in organic wines to ensure a more natural product.

Organic vs. Regular Wine: What Sets Them Apart?

For wine lovers who also care about the environment, understanding the difference between organic and regular wine is essential.

The most significant difference lies in how the grapes are grown. Organic wine comes from vineyards that avoid synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and genetically modified organisms. Regular wines, on the other hand, often come from grapes grown with synthetic chemicals, which can harm the soil and potentially affect the wine's true flavor.

Another difference is in how the wine is made. Organic winemaking has stricter rules, especially regarding the use of sulfites, a common preservative. Organic wines like Querciabella's Chianti Classico have little to no added sulfites, while regular wines may contain higher levels, potentially affecting taste and causing allergies in some people.

In glass, the difference can be subtle. Many find organic wines to have a purer taste, expressing the grape and the land's unique characteristics more clearly. They might describe them as cleaner, fruitier, and crisper. But taste is subjective, so the best way to decide is to try them yourself!

Choosing between organic and regular wine comes down to your values and preferences. If you value a natural lifestyle for yourself and your furry friend, organic wine might be the perfect choice. So, explore the world of organic wines and discover new flavors while supporting sustainable practices. It's all part of the adventure of being a wine lover.

What’s the Shelf Life of Organic Wine?

In general, the longevity of any wine is influenced by a variety of factors, from the type of grape and wine to the way it's stored. Yet, the primary difference between organic and conventional wines when it comes to shelf life has to do with sulfites.

Sulfites, usually added in the winemaking process as a preservative, play a crucial role in preventing oxidation and maintaining the wine's freshness over time. Since organic winemaking involves minimal use of sulfur dioxide, organic wines typically have lower sulfite levels compared to their conventional counterparts.

To illustrate this difference, imagine your favorite bottle of organic Sauvignon Blanc and a conventional one sitting side by side in your wine cellar. Assuming all other factors — including grape variety, winemaking process (except sulfites), and storage conditions — are identical, the organic wine might age faster due to its lower sulfite content.

However, this doesn't necessarily mean that organic wine is less durable. In fact, many organic wines can age beautifully if they are produced and stored correctly. For instance, AOC Bordeaux Rouge Clos de l'Anhel from Languedoc, France, an organic wine known for its longevity and rich flavors, will age wonderfully for up to ten years. On the flip side, wines intended to be consumed young, like a bright and zesty organic Grüner Veltliner from Austria, should be enjoyed shortly after purchase.

Organic, Biodynamic, and Vegan Wine

As you step into the world of organic wine, you may also come across biodynamic and vegan wines. Differentiating between organic, biodynamic, and vegan wines can be a bit of a challenge, even for seasoned wine enthusiasts. However, understanding these differences can really elevate your wine drinking experience.

Each method delivers its own unique twist on familiar grape varietals. Biodynamic wines seem to capture a vineyard's essence, creating a vibrant sense of place in each bottle. Organic wines feel clean and pure, letting the grape speak for itself. Vegan wines have a clarity and crispness that's notably different from wines fined with traditional methods. 

Biodynamic Wine 

Biodynamic wine goes beyond organic by following a farming philosophy that treats the vineyard as a holistic organism. It involves closed-system farming practices, with strict adherence to an agricultural calendar dictated by lunar and astrological rhythms. 

For example, Quivira Vineyards in California’s Dry Creek Valley practices biodynamic farming, resulting in wines that boast strong terroir expression.

Vegan Wine

Vegan wine, on the other hand, isn't so much about the grape-growing practices as it is about the wine-making process itself. Most individuals would naturally believe that all wine is vegan, but that's far from the truth. 

Traditional wine-making often involves the use of fining agents like egg whites, gelatin, or casein to clarify wine. Vegan wine, however, eschews animal-derived fining agents for plant-based ones or forgoes fining altogether, allowing gravity to do the work over time. 

These labels, alongside the organic label, are all about approaching winemaking in ways that prioritize environmental sustainability and ethical integrity, though they each manifest in slightly different ways. 

Step into the World of Organic Wines 

Organic, biodynamic, and vegan wines each have their own unique production methods and characteristics that make them stand out. Plus, they have fewer nitrates which may make them better for drinking, too. 

If you want to try out some organic wines yourself but don’t want to spend tons of money on bottles you might not like, Wags and Wine might be the solution. Our subscription service sends handpicked bottles to your doorstep each month, paired with dog toys and treats so your pup can indulge alongside you!

Better yet, on the website, you can sort by wine style and choose organic to make sure you only get this type of bottle. Subscribe today and enjoy the flavors of unique organic wines.