What Is Organic Wine?
Discover the benefits of organic wine and why those in the know are choosing organic.
I heard it through the grapevine . . . If you keep hearing about organic wine, we’re not surprised! Organic wines have been all the rage in recent years, but before you hop on the bandwagon, we’ve put together this helpful post to answer all your questions about this style of winemaking.
Organic wine: the basics
If you see a wine that’s labelled ‘organic’ and experience some confusion, you’re not alone. You may be wondering ‘isn’t all wine organic?’ It’s made from grapes after all! The main difference between organic wine and traditional wine is that the organic variety is made from grapes free of artificial, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.
Another way to think about organic wine is that it relates to the stage of wine production from planting to harvest. A bottle labelled organic means the grapes have been grown in accordance to strict rules that adhere to organic farming guidelines.
How to identify organic wine
Fortunately in Australia identifying organic wine is easy and you don’t need to conduct a taste test every time you are on the lookout for an organic wine--although we admit that sounds rather fun!
To sell Certified Organic Wine in Australia a winery must be certified. There are a number of different certification bodies including Australian Certified Organic, NASAA Organic, Certified BioGro Organic—look for the logo on the bottle to confirm the wine is Certified Organic.
Keen to try an imported organic wine? This can be more difficult (but no less delicious). As a general rule, organic wine certification varies around the world, with each country having their own dedicated certification bodies and rules. If you’re picking up a bottle of imported organic wine, check the label for any certification. Keep in mind not all organic wine is certified and in this case it’s up to you to make a decision about which wine to choose.
Is organic wine preservative free?
Fun fact: Did you know that some preservatives in wine are natural to the winemaking process? This means that just because a label says organic, don’t assume it is free of preservatives.
Organic wine may still contain sulphur dioxide (SO2) because grapes produce sulphur dioxide in the fermenting process. It can also be added during the winemaking process to stabilize the wine for longevity. If you are sensitive to sulphur dioxide, look for wines that are labelled ‘free of or no added preservatives’.
Is natural wine the same as organic wine?
The easiest way to think of natural wine is as the cousin of organic wine, but natural wine may not always be organic. Is your head hurting yet? Don’t worry. Here’s a simple explanation:
Natural and organic wine both have similar principles associated with clean living, but they are not the same thing because natural wine is concerned with a different stage of the winemaking process.
A wine is considered natural when the grape has been handpicked and crushed and nothing is added to tanks during fermentation (acid/sugar/enzymes). This allows the fruit to ferment on its own using the naturally occurring yeast on the grape’s skin. Natural wines are unfiltered, so you’ll often see sediment or ‘cloudiness’ in the bottle. Unlike organic wines, there is no consistent regulation or certification in relation to natural wines.
How about biodynamic wine?
Bio-what? If natural wine is the cousin of organic wine, biodynamic wine is like the big brother or big sister. In organic wine the focus is on taking things away, like chemicals and pesticide, whereas biodynamic winemaking is all about enriching the process during the planting to harvesting stage.
Biodynamic winemaking shares the organic approach of no chemical intervention but adds in practices for enriching the soil, planting, pruning and harvesting based on the moon cycle and astrological signs.
Whether or not you agree with this interpretation of winemaking that focuses on being in harmony with the earth’s cycle, biodynamic wine is well worth trying. And the added bonus? All biodynamic wine is organic!
Raise a glass to organic wine! Here’s why:
Less is more
The beauty of organic wine is in its simplicity. With less intervention, organic winemakers can capture the natural beauty of the grapes and this is reflected in the flavours you’ll discover in the glass. Organic wines are known for their purity and clarity of flavour, as well as their ability to be a true reflection of the terroir that they come from.
Seriously good wine
As you have read above, choosing to be careful about how your wine is produced doesn’t need to take away from the enjoyment. As well as the clean flavours, you’ll also discover that good organic wines offer exceptional quality. This is because without the use of chemicals, growers work in harmony with nature and the result is stunning wines that any wine lover will be proud to add to their collection.
Organic wine is better for the environment
Not surprisingly, when you choose to drink organic wine, you’re making a choice that’s good for the environment.
Organic farming avoids the use of chemical sprays that leave chemical residue on the plants as well as in the surrounding soil and groundwater. This means the soil is healthier and better for plant health. Not only that, when chemicals are avoided, plants become more resilient because the good bugs aren’t killed off and they are better able to fight off any bad bugs during growth.
When wines are made using sustainable farming practices, we’re nurturing the environment for future generations. Think of it as ensuring many more vintages to come.
Organic is the choice for mindful wine drinkers
If you’re seeking wine alternatives that match your lifestyle and a desire for clean living, organic wine is a great place to start. Generally speaking, organic wines are made with a socially and environmentally conscious mindset, so not only are they delicious, they’re wholesome good fun, too.
Psst… organic wine isn’t new
Did you know that prior to 1847, all wine produced would have been organic because those nasty farming chemicals we mentioned weren’t around yet? So next time you’re out to dinner and your friends are complimenting you about the great bottle of organic wine you’ve brought along, feel free to drop this fact into conversation.
In fact, some of the greatest wine brands in the world are organic, and have been for centuries because they chose not to introduce chemicals to the winemaking process during the early 1900s.
Ready to try organic wine?
We can help! Vineful only sells wine that is underpinned by mindful practices and you’ll find a great range of organic and biodynamic wine. You can join the monthly box journey which explores all mindful wine categories or check out our shop for organic and biodynamic specific boxes. Enjoy!