January 3, 2017

Organic Wine: Your Questions Answered

Organic food is healthier, tastes better and is better for the environment.

Vines at Domaine Olivier Leflaive

Vines at Domaine Olivier Leflaive

But considering wine is also a natural product, farmed just like your vegetables, there has been remarkably less noise about the benefits of organic wine. Yet now, a study has been published that has shown organic wine does in fact taste better. The study collated scores from a number of publications and organic wine “has a statistically significant score.” That’s pretty significant.

So how does Organic wine taste better?

There are several case studies that show people appreciate a wine more if they are told it’s more expensive. Even when they drink cheap wine. So might the same be true of organic wine? Well not entirely. The study takes into account scores from different wine publications. Most winemakers believe it’s because the fruit is healthier and therefore more complex. So rather than it being a kind of mind game, there are physiological differences in the grapes.

Does that mean normal wine is more unhealthy for me?

No. Though some chemicals used in vineyards are harmful in large doses to people, they don’t find their way into the wine. You might have heard the story about arsenic in wine but these are just trace elements. Organic wine is all about maintaining the soil and the vines. Which is better in the long term.

Sulphites in wine gives me hangovers, does Organic wine have less Sulphur?

Sulphur is a natural preservative, the tiny amounts used by winemakers helps keep the wine fresh. It’s not the sulphites in wine that’s giving you the hangover. A tiny percentage of people will be allergic to sulphites and have a nasty reaction, the rest of you are probably just dehydrated or maybe drank a bit too much wine. Here’s an explanation from Wine Folly. Some winemakers may use less sulphur for organic wines but it’s not a signpost one way or the other.

sulfites-in-wine

Will organic wine cost more?

Not necessarily. Though organic vineyards require more work in the vineyard, the grapes are generally healthier and require less attention in the winery. So it kind of balances out.

So why don’t all organic wines have the organic label?

That’s up to the winemaker! A lot of our Burgundy producers like simplicity on their labels and view organic farming as the only way to go. So they won’t bother with the certification. From a drinker’s point of view it’s not ideal but that’s where the knowledge of your wine merchant comes in. No winemaker ever sets out to deceive but their focus is on making the best wine. Not always on the best marketing. Much better than the other way round though.

Do you still have questions? Let us know in the comments.
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