What Is Organic Wine? Requirements and Facts
Organic wine is one of the fastest-growing segments in the wine industry. It’s becoming increasingly popular among environmentally conscious consumers looking for a more natural way to enjoy their drinks. But what exactly makes organic wine organic, and how does it differ from traditional wines? In this article, we dive into all things organic wine: its regulations, production methods, flavor profile and more.
Definition of Organic Wine
Organic wines are made with organically grown grapes that have been processed without additives or preservatives. This means that chemical fertilizers, pesticides and other synthetic products cannot be used on the vines while they are growing or in any stage of the winemaking process afterwards.
Instead, only naturally occurring fertilizers such as manure can be used to ensure high quality grapes for producing these special wines. Wines labeled as “organic” must also adhere to certain labeling requirements set by governmental agencies like the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA).
To qualify for USDA certification, a bottle must include 95% organically grown ingredients and contain no added sulfites beyond 10 parts per million (ppm), making them an ideal choice for those with sulfite sensitivities.
How is Organic Wine Made: Step-By-Step Explanation
The production of organic wine follows a strict set of regulations in order to ensure that only naturally occurring yeasts and other additives are used in the winemaking process. Here is a step-by-step explanation for each step involved:
- Harvest – Organic grapes are harvested by hand, ensuring that no synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides have been used in the vineyard.
- Crush & Macerate – Grapes are then crushed, either traditionally with feet or with mechanized equipment, and left to macerate for up to one week so that the liquid and solid elements of the grape must mix together and form base juice.
- Ferment – Wild yeasts can be used in order to naturally ferment the grape juice into wine, although some producers may opt for cultured yeasts instead depending on the desired flavor profiles they wish to achieve.
- Age & Clarify – Organic wines may be aged for at least six months prior to bottling in order to allow flavors and aromas to develop fully without having to rely on sulfite additions. Additionally, clarification techniques such as barrel aging or cold stabilization can also be employed but only if they do not involve adding sulfites or any artificial ingredients into the process.
- Bottle & Label – Once all necessary steps have been completed, the wines can be bottled and labeled according to specific regulations established by relevant organizations such as the USDA.
Related Article: Biodynamic, Organic and Sustainable Farming Methods Explained
Organic wines tend to be brighter and fruitier than traditional wines. Expect notes of juicy berries, fresh herbs, citrus and stone fruits in a good organic wine. The lack of additives also allows the terroir (the characteristics of a particular region) to shine through; this is especially true for wines made with grapes grown in warmer climates where ripeness levels tend to be higher.
Benefits of Organic Wine
Organic wine has numerous advantages over conventional wine, making it a popular choice for health-conscious and environmentally friendly wine drinkers. Here are some of the top benefits organic wine has to offer:
- No pesticide residues – Organic wines are free of synthetic chemical pesticides, which are believed to be carcinogenic in some cases. Organic wine is thought to lessen the risk of exposure to potentially harmful substances, providing an overall healthier drinking experience.
- Reduced environmental impact – Conventional vineyards use chemical inputs and intensive labor practices that can put a strain on the environment and wildlife in their surroundings. Organic vineyards, on the other hand, rely heavily on natural inputs like manure and compost, making them more sustainable.
- Enhanced flavor – Since organic grapes are typically allowed to ripen longer and require more attention from growers during harvesting, they have greater flavor intensity than non-organic grapes. This leads to full-bodied wines with unique aromas and flavors that aren’t found in conventional wines.
- Healthier soils – By growing their vines without synthetic chemicals or fertilizers, organic vineyards promote healthier soils that provide key nutrients for grapevines in the long run. This means better crop yields for next year’s harvest as well as improved water retention capacity for drought years.
- Greater variety – As organic winemaking becomes increasingly popular, small producers are beginning to experiment with innovative techniques and new varieties of grapes that weren’t available before in large quantities thanks to limited yields associated with organic farming methods.
Also see: 15 Benefits of Organic Wine
In order for a wine to be labeled as “organic” it must adhere to certain certification requirements set by governmental agencies like the USDA. To qualify for this designation, a bottle must include 95% organically grown ingredients and contain no added sulfites beyond 10 parts per million (ppm).
Additionally, the vineyard from which the grapes are sourced must also meet certain standards in regards to soil quality and management practices, such as crop rotation, mulching and composting.
Furthermore, any additives or processing aids that are used must also be approved by an organic certification body prior to bottling.
Organic wine can come from various regions all around the world. Because of this, one can expect subtle variations in flavor profile depending on where the grapes were grown and how they were processed. For example, cool climate regions tend to produce lighter bodied reds with bright acidity while warmer climates will typically yield fruitier styles with higher alcohol content due to ripeness levels being higher at harvest time.
Similarly, variations in winemaking techniques can also affect flavor; some producers opt for minimal intervention during fermentation while others may utilize oak chips or glycerin for added complexity or structure respectively.
Organic wines tend to have good aging potential due their lack of preservatives and additives usually found in traditional wines – such as sulfur dioxide – that can prevent aging or cause premature oxidation over time. That said, certain production methods (such as using oak chips) could potentially shorten its cellar life if not done properly; but when made following all regulations set forth by organic certifying bodies, one can expect a longer shelf life than most non-certified alternatives.
Organic wines can offer some nutritional benefits compared to conventional varieties too; as organic grapes are not treated with synthetic pesticides during growth they retain more beneficial nutrients like polyphenols (antioxidants) than their conventionally farmed counterparts which could provide positive health impact when consumed in moderation alongside a balanced diet plan.
Furthermore thanks to their lack of added sulfur dioxide – present in many non-organic wines – they may also be easier on the digestive tract reducing common issues such as bloating or gas often associated with drinking regular wines. All in all, organic wines are a great option for those looking to enjoy a quality beverage while still being mindful of their health and the environment. With so many benefits, it’s no wonder why organic wine is becoming increasingly popular among oenophiles!
Organic wines do come at a higher price point than their non-organic counterparts due to the added cost associated with certification and compliance to organic farming standards. While this may be a deterrent for some, it is worth noting that there are certain regions where producing in an organic manner is much more cost effective due to inherent benefits such as increased soil fertility and greater pest/weed control, thus allowing producers to offer quality wines at reasonable prices.
Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference when choosing between conventional or organic labels; however, considering the various health and environmental benefits of investing in certified organic bottles – not to mention the complex flavor profiles they often possess – we strongly suggest giving them a try! Whether you decide to make regular purchases or simply want to indulge in a special bottle every now and then, there’s really no downside to expanding your knowledge of organic wines. Cheers!
Organic wines are an excellent choice for those looking to enjoy quality beverages while also being mindful of their health and the environment. With various benefits such as increased nutrition content due to reduced amounts of synthetic pesticides, longer shelf life due to lack of added preservatives and additives, plus unique flavor profiles based on production techniques used – organic wine is certainly worth trying out if you haven’t already done so! We hope this article has helped shed some light on the wonderful world of certified organic bottles; cheers!
Do organic wines have a specific taste?
While there is no common flavor for all organic wines, many tend to be more complex in flavor due to the production techniques used during fermentation and aging. One should expect notes of fruit, herbs, spices, and other nuances depending on the grape variety and region in which it was cultivated.
Will organic wine last longer than conventional varieties?
Generally speaking yes – if made following all regulations set forth by certifying bodies – as it does not include preservatives or additives that can prevent aging or cause premature oxidation over time. However certain production methods such as using oak chips could potentially shorten its shelf life if not done properly.
Does organic wine contain fewer calories than its non-organic counterpart?
Generally speaking, yes. Organic wines do not contain added sugars or flavorings which can add to the overall calorie count. However for more exact information we suggest consulting a nutrition label or directly contacting producers for further details.
Is organic wine better for the environment?
Absolutely. Certified organic grapes are grown without synthetic pesticides, meaning fewer toxins and pollutants entering into surface water and soil reserves as well as benefiting local wildlife in the vicinity of vineyards. Additionally, carbon dioxide emissions from transport can be dramatically reduced due to decreased traveling distances required compared to conventional farming practices. All in all, investing in organic labels is an excellent way to support sustainable farming practices while also enjoying a delicious beverage.
Where can one purchase organic wines?
Organic wines, just like their conventional counterparts, can be purchased in most liquor stores and specialty shops offering a wide selection of bottles from all around the world. Additionally, online retailers such as Amazon or Wine.com are excellent sources for finding certified labels at great prices. Happy sipping!