As the world grows increasingly health and environmentally conscious, there has been an increasing trend towards organic foodstuffs. This trend is mirrored in industries throughout the world and the wine sector is no different. In fact, many producers now wear the organic label as a badge of honor, proudly separating their wines from the rest of the pack by noting their adherence to more natural vine growing techniques.
So is organic all that it’s cracked up to be? We think so, but also note that non-organic wines are most certainly worthy of your time too. Even so, we have created a short list of some of the key benefits of going organic with your wine drinking.
Supporting the Land
Organic growing methods, particularly those that veer over into biodynamic methods, place all of their focus on using completely natural products at all points. What this means for the farmer’s land is that fewer chemicals from pesticides, fertilisers, and the like make their way into the soil.
Over the long term, this eradication of man-made chemicals not only supports local ecosystems, allowing wildlife and fauna to enjoy superior living conditions, but it also ensures the land itself is fully supported and made sustainable so that future generations can enjoy and use it.
Another beneficial by-product of the organic process is the fact that the removal of man-made chemicals from the land makes the produce grown on that land more representative of the region and the natural qualities of the soil. In an industry such as wine, where terroir and individuality are so key to success, it is likely that organic growing techniques will be useful in helping producers distinguish their wines from their competitors, creating more accurate depictions of the land in the process.
We touched upon it in the last point, but it is worth bringing up here too. The organic growing method prevents the use of man-made chemicals in agriculture. As such, consumers no longer need to worry about ingesting things that are not completely natural and that, in some cases, can even be harmful to the human body.
In particular, this focus on man-made chemicals extends to fertilizers and pesticides. Eradicating the use of man-made variants strengthens the land and has numerous benefits besides. For example, avoiding man-made fertilizers and pesticides altogether is actually considered a viable way to lower a company’s carbon footprint, as it no longer contributes to the manufacture of such products, which is typically a high-energy process.
Peace of Mind
Since 2012, any bottle of wine in Europe that claims to be organic must undergo a thorough certification process in which production techniques and the veracity of the organic claim are verified.
As such, any bottle of wine that carries the organic label is officially certified to be just that. As such, you don’t need to worry as much about buying a potentially non-organic product that has been mislabelled.
Having said that, as with all wine purchases, it is still important to check the label thoroughly to search for potential discrepancies, especially when purchasing from an unknown retailer or seller. Counterfeiting is still a major issue in the wine industry and there are some malicious producers who will actively lie about a product being organic just to charge a higher price. As always, conduct your own research before a purchase.
Less Sulphur Dioxide
One of the key preservatives in the modern wine industry is sulphur dioxide, which is generally used towards to end of the winemaking process to help producers control the ageing process, in addition to being used to clean barrels and other equipment.
Some believe that sulphur dioxide in wine can have a harmful effect on the body. While this has yet to be proven, and it is most likely that the chemical in the concentrations you will consume when drinking non-organic wine are harmless, the knowledge that organic wine should be mostly free of sulphur dioxide should offer additional peace of mind to purchasers and also goes to show that its use is not absolutely essential to the winemaking industry.
The Real Grape
Many proponents of the organic method will tell you that the only way to experience the true flavour of the grape is to use the organic growing method in vine growing. This is a point we touched upon earlier when speaking about preservation of the land, but it is worth noting as a separate point that the lack of man-made chemicals meant that you enjoy the unadulterated grape experience whenever you drink a bottle of organic wine.
As such, organic bottles are considered by many to be more representative of the terroir and the grape itself. Whether this is a good or bad thing is often down to personal taste, as some may find that they prefer the non-organic variant of a grape to the completely organic one. Still, the issue of grape purity is important to many and organic techniques facilitate the growing of more “pure” grape varieties.
Preserving the Environment
Another point that we touched upon earlier in the article was environmental protection, specifically how not using man-made pesticides and fertilisers results in less energy being used in their production, thus lowering a wine producer’s carbon footprint.
However, the environmental benefits of going organic extend much further than that. When a winemaker introduces an unnatural chemical into the environment, it can have an effect on the ecosystem to the point where it taints both water and soil, potentially destroying animal habitats while changing the behaviours and patterns of local wildlife.
Beyond this, the production of fertilisers and chemicals not only consumes energy, but can sometimes result in potentially harmful gases being pumped into the air. As such, going organic can not only lower a company’s carbon footprint, but it also helps it to preserve local wildlife and habitats in addition to ensuring less pollution is pumped into the air. These factors combined will create a healthier planet where people and animals are at less risk of ingesting potentially harmful man-made chemicals.