5 Distinctions That Set Organic Wines Apart
There are key differences in production and growth that set organic wine apart from its non-organic counterpart
“Organic” is a bit of a buzzword these days. From grocers to clothing stores and cosmetic producers, the desire to experience the naturally made difference has infused all aspects of everyday life. Purchasing organic products can be healthier and more ethical – it’s good for the mind, the body, and the planet. When it comes to indulging in one of the foremost pleasures of life – what’s on the dinner table – there’s no better choice than organic wine. Once considered a bit of an elusive libation, organic wine is now not only readily accessible, but it can also be surprisingly affordable. Consider it a reasonable luxury that doesn’t have to be reserved for a special occasion.
If you’ve never enjoyed a glass of organic wine before or had the pleasure of strolling an organic vineyard, you might be wondering – what’s in a name? What exactly makes organic wine, organic? Here, we’ll take a look at five key characteristics that define organic wine.
Organic wine contains no harmful chemicals
First and foremost, no synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers have been used to make organic wine. This applies to every stage of the wine’s production, from the grape’s growth to the final refreshment that is poured into your glass. This means no synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers are used at the vineyard. Instead, weeds are pulled by hand, or using mechanical equipment, and the natural environment does all the work to create a fresh bounty.
This organic process really preserves the grapes’ health and quality, which translates into the richer flavor, typicity, and expression of the wines. By contrast, non-organic wines are made from grapes which were sprayed with pesticides to poison insects, and chemicals to combat diseases. Once the wines are elaborated, sulfites are generally added to stabilize the wine during fermentation and extend the bottle’s shelf life.
In most countries, wines made with organically grown grapes, but that still contains some sulfites, are considered organic. The United States is unique in that it makes the distinction between “wines made with organically grown grapes” which contain some sulfites and “organic wines” which don’t contain added sulfites. It is important to note that wines that are certified “made with organic grapes” contain half the sulfites or less than wines made with conventionally grown grapes. This is a requirement to obtain the certification “made with organically grown grapes.”
Truly organic wine is certified
Discerning wine lovers eager to taste the organically grown difference should take care to look out for frauds. Some winemakers may use language in their advertising that gives the idea of organic production – terms such as “natural,” “fresh,” “healthy, “thoughtfully-made” – but truly organic wine is certified organic. Look for certified organic labels, such as “USDA Organic,” “SIP Certified,” and “made with certified organically grown grapes,” and don’t be afraid to ask.
Organic wine production is better for vineyard workers
In 2015, the family of a deceased vineyard worker sued his employer after he passed away from cancer linked to the use of pesticides. This caused an outcry over an issue that had long been plaguing vineyard workers: safety concern over prolonged exposure to chemicals. Farmers that produce non-organic wine are exposed to various synthetic pesticides. Toxic effects from pesticide exposure range from allergic reactions to strong headaches and nausea and even convulsions and death.
This tragedy and others can be prevented by using organic methods of cultivation. Given that organic wine relies on grapes that are grown without these dangerous chemicals, these vineyards are much better for employees’ health.
Organic wine better preserves the quality of the soil
The quality of organic wine goes beyond the grapes themselves; it is a part of the very soil the vines are rooted in. The reason for this is simple: because organic grapes are produced without the use of harmful chemicals, the soil is also able to remain in its most natural state. Therefore, the soil at an organic vineyard has a healthy level of microbial activity. This in turn leads to healthier vines, which produce better tasting grapes. The end result is in the superior flavor of the wine. The harmonious relationship between the soil, plants, and the product is one of the most exceptional qualities of organic wine.
Organic wine is not always vegan, and vegan wine is not always organic
In many industries, the terms “organic” and “vegan” are used interchangeably. However, they are seldom synonymous. This is true in the case of winemaking, where organic wine is not always vegan, and vegan wine is not always organic.
The terms refer to separate, but in the opinion of many consumers, equally important facets of thoughtful wine production. So what makes wine vegan? Oftentimes, it comes down to the use of eggs – yes, believe it or not, eggs can be used to produce wine.
It is actually the egg white, also referred to as the albumen, that is used to clarify and stabilize the wine. The egg white contains proteins that can soften tannins, creating a less acidic and less bitter flavor. Though vegan wine made in this way does not retain the flavor of the egg, its use makes a wine non-vegan. Plant-based individuals who care about adhering to this lifestyle should ensure that the organic wine they purchase is also vegan.
Domaine Bousquet, located in Mendoza, Argentina, is the first Argentinean winery to add its own import company to the United States. Our wine is certified organic – made with organic grapes – vegan, sustainable, and fair trade. Here, we focus on preserving a grape’s high-quality characteristics, which is why gentle handling of the fruit is the guiding principle of our winery. Our vineyard is backed by four generations of winemaking tradition and is held in high esteem as one of the top 15 Argentinean wineries. Browse and enjoy our selection.