Reasons to Drink Organic Wine – Why Drink Organic Wine?
Why drink organic wine? It’s an ideal choice for many reasons! Winemakers and drinkers alike agree that it’s better for the environment, and that it can also be better for those drinking it too! It’s also not as expensive as you might think, and the good news is that today there are plenty of quality organic wines and drinks to pick from.
In this article, we’ll break down the reasons to drink organic wine and why organic wine is a better choice. We’ll cover these five reasons to drink organic in more detail:
- Organic wine is made using only organically certified grapes, grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides and artificial fertilisers. Winemaking is carried out to regulation organic guidelines also.
- Wines made the right way have taste benefits too. They exude true regional expression and character. They are great and ‘real’ value.
- Health benefits include ingesting less man made toxins, especially pesticide residues and often less sulphur dioxide. A better ‘morning after’ feeling!
- Think and drink organic. Help support a cleaner environment and protect soils, water and the air we all breathe.
- When choosing organic, you are supporting growers that help promote biodiversity, and healthy jobs for people too.
Before we cover the point of organic wine … here’s a quick overview of what organic wine is.
First, what is organic wine? What is the meaning of organic wines?
Basically, for a wine to be labelled as organic, it must be made in accordance with organic winemaking standards. But for now, let’s not talk about wine. Let’s talk about the grapes – the fruit of the vine and the only ingredient that matters.
Consider for a moment the tasteless, the bruised and the under-ripe fruit you’ve bought over the years. Maybe you’ve left it in a windowsill to see if it’ll ripen? Have you bitten into a rosy red apple and been at a loss that there’s no taste at all? Or, popped a strawberry into your mouth and known at the first bite that there’s a mouldy one in there somewhere…!
The cooks and the bakers reading this will know that whilst there’s much that can be done with under-par fruit, lots of recipes are best avoided because they are dependent upon the freshest, tastiest and healthiest ingredients.
Winemakers know that the quality of the grapes they harvest is everything when it comes to making delicious wine. All the latest vinification gizmos in the world won’t turn dull grapes into vinous magic. Wines made the right way have taste benefits too. They exude true regional expression and character and are great and ‘real’ value.
This isn’t news and it is unlikely to surprise you that many, many wineries understand the value of growing their grapes organically to get the results they want.
Visit the website of almost any wine estate in the world and you will read about the importance of harvesting ripe, healthy fruit. Producers will talk about ‘environmentally friendly’ viticulture and the limited use of herbicides and pesticides. And, given a glass of Prosecco for every time we have read, ‘adopting organic practices’, well, frankly there wouldn’t be anybody at Vintage Roots HQ sober enough to take an order!
Always look out for proof of organic certification
Seeing these terms on back labels and on marketing material does not mean you are drinking a glass of truly organic wine. Why? Because organic wines must be made following clearly defined rules in both the vineyard and the cellar. For a wine estate to call itself organic, it must follow the letter of organic viticulture and winemaking law!
Before 2012, when there were no rules for how ‘organic wines’ should be made in the cellar. We used to have labels that simply said ‘wine from organically grown grapes’. Since 2012, however, we can confidently talk about ‘organic wines’, which follow winemaking standards that ban certain treatments and additives, as well as limiting the amount of sulphur dioxide or sulphites used. There are numerous organic certifying bodies around the world whose different stamps and logos you may come across. In the UK the Soil Association are best used and in Europe it is Ecocert.
Why drink organic wine? What is the point of organic wine? Is organic wine any better?
We would of course say yes absolutely it is, and we know many of you are asking these questions. So let’s dive deeper into the main reasons to drink organic wine and why it’s preferred among winemakers and drinkers alike.
Why drink organic wine: It’s better for the environment and is made using organically certified grapes
Sadly synthetic pesticides are a common feature of non-organic vine growing. The environmental impact of pesticides for our land and wildlife is now well documented.
Organic wine is made using only organically certified grapes, grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides and artificial fertilisers. The benefit of organic viticulture and farming is clear. A greatly reduced negative and irreversible impact on the soil, greater carbon efficiency helping climate warming, increased biodiversity and creation of healthier jobs in the countryside.
Organic practices encourage soil fauna and flora, improving soil structure and health. In turn, the retentive abilities of the soils for water and nutrients are improved, helping increase microbe levels, aiding healthy plant growth, disease resistance and ultimately improving wine quality. By thinking and drinking organic, you also support a cleaner environment and protect soils, water and the air we all breathe. When choosing organic, you are supporting growers that help promote biodiversity, and healthy jobs for people too.
Much organic vineyard management leads to returning carbon to the soils which can directly impact productivity and mitigate global warming. Vintage Roots also has chosen to carbon offset all of our wine and drinks imports from around the world, helping to make it a carbon-neutral company (since 2005), one of the very first wine companies to do so. Here at Vintage Roots, we also use ‘Climate Care’, which finances, manages, and develops climate projects around the world, and provides carbon offset credits to organisations globally. We also recognise the need to reduce our own direct carbon emissions wherever possible.
Why drink organic wine: it’s likely better for you
We’re not aiming to scare you but there’s plenty of evidence to suggest there are strong links between the use of systemic pesticides and herbicides with increased risk of cancers and diseases that impact our nervous system (think Parkinson’s Disease). There are also papers that write persuasively on the negative impact of pesticides on fertility. The list goes on, and there’s also the added (and unknown) risk of chemical cocktails when a range of toxins from different sources are ingested. By drinking organic wines and drinks, you’re ingesting less man-made toxins, especially pesticide residues and often less sulphur dioxide. This may contribute to a better ‘morning after’ feeling!
For some people, a sensitivity to sulphites and conditions such as asthma can make drinking non-organic wines a problem. As the use of added sulphur is considerably less in organically made wines, they are often the only choice for sufferers. (Please note, we are not doctors! Please visit one if you have a medical worry.)
Does organic wine have sulphites?
The answer is yes, but at lower levels since the permitted levels of added sulphur in wines are lower for organic winemakers. The permitted maximum for organic red wine is 100mg/litre as opposed to 150mg/litre for conventionally made red wines, whilst organic white wines can have no more than 150mg/litre (as opposed to 200mg/litre). For those that struggle with allergies, breathing difficulties, and just want to manage their health, this is good news.
Additives can be a dirty word, but some are allowed in organic winemaking. For example, the EU recently allowed pea protein to be used as a fining agent. It’s known to work quickly and to be more effective than many alternatives. The sort of additives organic winemakers cannot use would include calcium alginate for thinning and polyvinylpolypyrrolidone (yup, it’s a word – the number of letters alone is fairly intimidating!!) to correct the wine’s colour.
Note, here at Vintage Roots, we sell both low sulphur organic wines and no sulphur added organic wines. You can also find our more about sulphur in wines via our Guide to Low and No Sulphur Added Wines.
Does organic wine give you a hangover?
Hippocrates was the Greek Father of Medicine, and he’s said some very wise things, not least, “The first glass of wine is for health, the second glass of wine is for gaiety, the third glass of wine is for good sleep, and every further glass is a danger.” He added, “Too much wine usually causes complaints.”
Friends, when you wake groggy, headachy and grumpy, you entered the danger zone! Anecdotally, there are plenty of stories about the ‘better’ or ‘no’ hangover morning after a night of organic wine drinking but sadly the science doesn’t agree. The best way to avoid a hangover is responsible drinking.
Another reason to drink organic wine: it’s made from organic grapes (non GMO)
We are not GMO fans – they’re hugely disruptive to our already very vulnerable ecosystem and potentially toxic, there seems no reason to support them. Nevertheless, GMO vines have been developed and are sitting in labs around the world. For now, they are not in vineyards. We have even heard that a grapevine that glows in the dark has been developed at the University of Florida. Say no more.
More worryingly, there are some GMO yeasts in circulation and if you drink non-organic, there is simply no way of knowing if the wine you have in your glass has been made using a GMO yeast.
The good news? Well, yes, GMOs in any form, are not allowed in organically and biodynamically certified wines. Phew.
We do however support the use and development of PIWI wines. These are growing in popularity, as the effects of climate change develops and compromises grape growing in some areas. PIWI vines are crosses between Vitis species, giving rise to new grape varieties which are often more resistant to fungal diseases, whilst having interesting and attractive flavour characteristics. A win-win situation!
Why drink organic wine: organic wine is not as expensive as you might think
In an article that asked why more people don’t drink organic wine, the winemaker, Caro Feely wrote some interesting thoughts in an article on Jancis Robinson’s website:
“Perhaps people think organic is too expensive. Yes, organic is more expensive than non-organic, but as a marine biologist in France likes to put it, ‘I buy organic because I can’t afford a cancer treatment.’”
And about organic versus conventional winemaking:
“Ironically those who are not polluting have to pay to be certified while those who are using highly toxic systemic chemicals are not controlled and pay nothing. It should be the other way around. Organic certification should be free and those using systemics should have to pay to be controlled so that we know they are using these products in the correct way and within the permitted levels.”
We agree with this, it does seem ridiculous that organic certification needs to be paid for. Nevertheless, at Vintage Roots we work hard to keep our prices as competitive as possible. Our organic wines start at £8.50 a bottle and our mixed cases are a way to get discounted prices too.
New to organic wine? Two Mixed Cases you might enjoy
Our Most Popular Organics Mixed Case has six customer favourites and best sellers that over-deliver for the money. A hugely popular mixed case that covers a lot of the bases in terms of wine styles from a light fizz to a richly flavoured Malbec from Argentina.
Similarly, our Organic Everyday Mixed Case has three organic reds and three organic whites that are reliable favourites and kind to your pocket too.
Reasons to drink organic wine: a final quote
“Great wine requires a mad man to grow the vine, a wise man to watch over it, a lucid poet to make it, and a lover to drink it.” – Salvador Dali
Organic winemaking starts in the vineyard and continues when the wines are made, bottled, sold and then distributed and sold on again. Producing a bottle of quality organic wine involves the effort of many, and we’re pleased to work with some of the best winemakers from around the world who put the environment first.
Where to buy organic wine? The best organic wine
Here at Vintage Roots, we’ve been sourcing the best organic and biodynamic wines available since 1986. We can’t say what the best organic wine is, as this really depends on your own preferences. But whether you’re after organic reds, whites, rosés or sparkling, we surely have something to suit your tastes.