If you’ve followed the Xtrawine blog for the last few years, you’ll know that we periodically look at the organic movement in Italian wine. Without getting into a ton of detail, there is an ever-growing push towards creating more natural wines that many would consider “greener” than the wines most producers make.
Of course, we’ve seen this push towards organic in other areas as well. Many people specifically search out organic produce in supermarkets, going so far as to pay a little extra as long as they get the assurance that their food is 100% natural.
The question is why is this movement having such an impact on the Italian wine industry?
After all, wine, at its most basic level, is just grapes that are fermented to create a delectable alcoholic beverage. Why are some people so concerned with ensuring that their wines are organic?
Let’s find out as we look at some of the reasons why there is an increasing demand for green wines.
Reason #1 – A More Accurate Reflection of the Terroir
Visit almost any wine producer’s website and you will see them mention their terroir. Many will spend several paragraphs talking about how important their terroir is to the makeup of their Italian wines.
So, what is terroir?
In simple terms, it’s the land that the producer uses to grow their grapes. However, the terroir is really so much more than that. Every producer’s patch of land is a little different. Everything from the composition of the soil to what the producer does to take care of the land makes a difference when it comes to the taste of the wines they produce.
And it’s here where we see the link to organic.
Those who make organic wines commit to not using any chemical pesticides or other products when growing their grapes.
Those who love organic wine will tell you that this commitment leads to wines that offer a more accurate representation of the terroir that bore them. After all, having no man-made interventions occurring ensures that the grapes get the full benefit of the land, rather than absorbing external chemicals that could alter the taste of the eventual product.
Reason #2 – The Health Issue
Of course, when we talk about the use of man-made fertilisers and pesticides, we also open up the debate about the health ramifications of drinking non-organic wine.
Some will tell you that the chemicals many producers use seep into the grapes. What is intended as a way to ensure the grapes can grow as healthily as possible could also be leading to tiny portions of chemicals seeping into the fruit.
The organic movement focuses on removing these chemicals from the grape.
In doing so, it ensures that you’re not likely to consume any of the chemicals used by many to protect their crops when you’re drinking your Italian wine.
Reason #3 – The “Green” Effect
We’ve made numerous mentions of people considering organic wines to be “greener” than their non-organic cousins.
This isn’t hyperbole from the organic lobby.
When producers use chemical products on their land, they may change the entire ecosystem. For example, let’s say the producer waters their crops using water that is laced with chemical fertiliser. On the surface, that fertiliser helps the crops to grow bigger and stronger. However, the water containing those chemicals seeps into the land and, in many cases, runs through irrigation systems that lead to natural wildlife drinking it.
And therein lies the issue.
If the minuscule amount of these chemicals that seep into the grapes could cause issues for humans, imagine what water laced with these chemicals could do to animals that drink it.
The organic movement gets rid of these chemicals, thus limiting the impact that making wine has on the land. Supporters of the movement will tell you that this helps local wildlife to flourish while also maintaining the health and strength of the land used for the vines.
Reason #4 – Increased Regulation
Regulation is an important aspect of the Italian wine industry.
We know this simply due to the existence of the DOC and DOCG certifications. Italian authorities, and wine consumers, care about what goes into their glasses. They care so much that there are certifications in place to ensure producers from different regions make specific types of wines using defined concentrations of grapes.
Perhaps this desire for regulation is part of the reason why organic and “green” winemaking is becoming so popular.
After all, organic wines have to pass a stringent battery of tests before they can carry the organic label. Producers need to be able to prove they’ve used the appropriate techniques, which are defined in no uncertain terms.
There is likely a segment of the Italian wine market that appreciates “green” wines because of this increased regulation. They know that somebody has examined the wine to confirm that it is what the producer says it is, which makes them more confident in drinking the wine.
Reason #5 – Improve Nutritional Value
Again, reading the Xtrawine blog will lead to you finding plenty of articles that we’ve written about the potential health benefits of Italian wine. When consumed in appropriate amounts, the antioxidants in wine, particularly resveratrol, can help with heart disease, cancer prevention, and a range of other health issues.
Proponents of organic wines will tell you that the chemicals used in wine production limit these benefits. In some cases, they’ll argue that non-organic production methods may actually run contrary to these benefits. By going organic, you’re getting the full nutritional value of the grape, which means you’re also getting the full health benefits that come with consuming it.
The Final Word
The “green” wine movement has not become the dominant way to produce Italian wine just yet.
However, it’s growing every year. And as consumers become more aware (and more concerned) with what they’re putting into their bodies, it’s likely we’re going to see more organic wines enter the market.
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