healthy buzz

Let's Talk About Organic Wine (As In, Why Drink It — And Is It Good?)

“Wine cheers the soul, revives the old, inspires the young, makes weariness forget his toil." - Lord Byron

Organic and natural wines are gaining in popularity—as is everything, these days, that is organic and/or natural. The idea of a “healthy” wine is especially intriguing, however, as not only is it rare for wellness to associated with alcohol (wee!), but the natural element actually enhances the flavor of said wine, due to a lack of inhibition by harmful chemicals. And it doesn’t give you hangovers. (Yes, really.) In other words: We all win here.

Now, before we pop those bottles, let’s take a look at what organic wine actually is: The actual term “organic wine” encompasses various methods of producing a product free of synthetic pesticides, fungicides and chemical fertilizers. It’s typically produced without the headache-inducing sulphites used to preserve standard wines. (Of these sulphate preservatives, sulphur dioxide is the most widely used, and perhaps the most controversial, thanks to its tendency to be the root cause of wine allergies.) While some naturally occurring sulphur may be present in organic wine, it is largely free of such—and therefore healthier to consume all-around. Those of you who experience headaches, redness or nausea when drinking wine will appreciate this. (Worth noting, however, is that sulphite-free wine should be consumed within a two – three year time frame, given that said wine is lacking in chemical preservatives. Not the ideal choice for wine collectors, clearly.) Wines labeled as biodynamic and / or natural is your best (i.e. healthiest) bet, and, if you want your tipple to be truly organic, look for that USDA Organic Seal in the US or the Soil Association logo for the UK.  It is worth mentioning that wines labeled “Made With Organically Grown Grapes” means that sulphites could be added to the finished product.

So, back to how it tastes. Organic wine is, as mentioned, said to taste better than traditional wine by some, thanks to the lack of chemicals, but it is this very lack of chemicals that cause others to say that organic wine is an “acquired” taste. And so, in the interest of putting the debate to rest, I decided to find out for myself: I tried a Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa and a Pinot Grigio from Italy, both organic. (Tough work, but somebody has to do it.)

The Cabernet Sauvignon was labeled organic, and stated that there was no sulphur added. It was 13.5% alcohol by volume, and was described as smooth and mellow. I enjoyed a glass of the red wine and found it to be rustic, in a good way. All of the flavors were there and I would definitely buy a bottle again. It was comparable in price to a similar, traditional everyday red.

Next was the Pinot Grigio, which I can only describe as fantastic. It was crisp and refreshing; I had to remind myself more than once that it was still alcohol, as it was going down a little too easily. It was 12% alcohol by volume, and was described on the bottle as crisp and delicate. It was priced similarly to the Cabernet Sauvignon, but this one, for me, was the clear winner.

The verdict? I definitely recommend giving organic wine a go. You feel good and it tastes good. Like I said, earlier: We all win. Cheers to that, no?


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