Organic vs Biodynamic vs Natural Wine
In the wine world these days there’s plenty of talk about organic, natural and biodynamic wines. And for us here at Vintage Roots even more since we’ve been importing and selling organic and biodynamic wines (here) in the UK since 1986. We know, however, that organic vs natural vs biodynamic wines and the differences between the three types of wines can still be confusing. And we get it! There are lots of labels out there and thousands of wines to pick from. It can all be a little mind-boggling, but if you’re a conscious consumer looking for environmentally friendly wines, chances are you’ll be wondering about this.
In this blog post, we’ll cover organic vs natural vs biodynamic wines and the differences between the three. It may be a little confusing, but after reading this hopefully things will be more clear and you’ll be able to choose the wines that are right for you. We’ll answer the following in this blog post:
- What is organic wine?
- What is biodynamic wine?
- Is biodynamic wine the same as organic wine?
- What is natural wine?
- Is natural wine the same as organic wine?
- Where to find organic, biodynamic and natural wines in the UK
Organic vs natural vs biodynamic wine: What is ORGANIC wine?
Let’s start here. In a nutshell, organic wine is wine made in accordance with organic production standards, which have been in place in the EU/UK since 2012. Essentially this means that organic wine is made from certified organic grapes that are grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilisers. Organic wine regulations also govern additives, processing aids, and the amount of added sulphites that can be used. You can find more information about what substances and additives are not allowed in organic winemaking here (see the table on page 17 of the IFOAM report).
To know whether a wine is truly organic, you need to look out for certification labels. These are typically found on back wine labels at the bottom. These logos ensure that a wine has in fact been certified and the vineyards and cellars were inspected to verify that organic grape growing and winemaking rules were followed.
Here at Vintage Roots we’ve been importing only certified organic and biodynamic wines since 1986 – so you can rest assured that all our wines are in fact organic and/or biodynamic.
Why do people choose to drink organic wine and eat organic food?
Most people choose organic food and drink because they believe it’s better for the environment. While some will argue that synthetic pesticides and sprays have been beneficial, they can also cause harm to our soils, waterways, wildlife, the air we breathe, vineyard workers and more. These chemicals can also find their way into our food and drink chain, and eventually into us. By choosing organic products, you’re choosing to support a food and drink system that’s more natural and better for the environment. You can find out more about the reasons to drink organic wine via this blog post here.
Organic vs natural vs biodynamic wine: What is BIODYNAMIC wine?
The approach to biodynamic agriculture was introduced by Austrian philosopher and scientist Rudolph Steiner in the 1920s. Steiner predicted that western civilization would eventually face destruction to itself and the earth unless there was a better understanding of the spiritual world and its interrelationship with the physical world. With biodynamic farming the farm is viewed as a closed ecosystem, where nothing should be brought in from outside and nothing wasted. One major concept behind biodynamics is the belief that everything – the crops, the soil, the farmer, and celestial bodies – is interconnected. Biodynamic winegrowers typically follow a biodynamic growing calendar and the typical biodynamic vineyard is mixed use, with livestock providing manure for compost, although wine estates without livestock will buy in biodynamic compost. You can find out more about biodynamic wine via our complete guide to biodynamic wine here.
Is biodynamic wine the same as organic wine?
They’re similar. A biodynamic wine will be made in accordance with organic production principles, but an organic wine, however, will not necessarily be a biodynamic wine. For a wine to be sold as ‘biodynamic’, it must be certified by an organisation such as Demeter or Biodyvin. So while all the certified biodynamic wines we sell are also organic, not all the organic wines are biodynamic. Generally, rules for biodynamic wine are more rigorous than those for organic. Winemakers say that to reap the full rewards of biodynamics takes around seven years or more, longer than for organic. It is true to say also that many organic wine producers do also use some selected biodynamic treatments and methods where they can easily do so, but without going the whole way. You can browse our selection of biodynamic wines (that are organic too) here.
Organic vs natural vs biodynamic wine: What is NATURAL wine?
Natural wine has become more popular – and trendy some would even say – in recent years. One thing important to point out about natural wine is that there’s no internationally agreed upon standard for what constitutes natural wine like there is for organic and biodynamic wine. In the simplest sense “nothing added and nothing removed” is a way to describe natural wines. In general, like many organic and biodynamic wines too, they’re made by small-scale, independent winegrowers and makers. They can also be made from grapes grown on organic and biodynamic vineyards, although they’re not always certified organic or biodynamic – so ask for specifics. They’re also fermented with no added yeasts, additives and little or no added sulphur.
If you’d like to explore our organic wines that we consider more ‘natural’ in style, you can do so here. To avoid consuming sulphur, some of our customers also seek out our no sulphur added wines or low sulphur wines specifically.
Is natural wine the same as organic wine?
Although some might say they’re the same, natural wine is not the same as organic wine. While a natural wine might be made from organically or biodynamically grown grapes, this isn’t always the case and since there’s a lack of regulations and inspections for natural wines it’s important to ask questions. Organic wines on the other hand must be made in accordance with organic wine rules – which is a traceable and verifiable process.
In France, an official definition of natural wine has emerged, known as ‘Vin Méthode Nature’. This is surely a useful move that may well help to grow this sector further. To qualify for the ‘Vin Méthode Nature’, grapes must be certified organic according to a recognised certifying body. You can find out more about natural wines via our guide to natural wine here.
Where to find organic, biodynamic and natural wines in the UK
There are plenty of fantastic options and it’s hard for us to just recommend a few – but our pre-selected mixed cases are a fabulous place to start!
If you’re new to organic wines, our Most Popular Organics case contains six of our most popular wines, three reds and three whites.
If you just prefer reds, our Great Organic Reds has six of our most popular organic red wines.
If you’re looking to try some fabulous biodynamic wines, then go for our Biodynamix Mixed Case.
For natural wines, our Naturally Gifted contains three popular organic reds and three whites in the more ‘natural’ style of winemaking.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post all about organic vs biodynamic vs natural wines and the differences between the three!