In the past few years, the organic food industry has skyrocketed. You can practically find organic everything. But what's most surprising: organic grapes only account for five percent of the total vineyard acreage worldwide. However, somehow, organic wine consumption has been increasing rapidly, nearly ten percent yearly in the United States.
Because we're pretty confident that organic wine consumption will continue to grow, we've taken time to discuss organic wine, more specifically organic red wine.
What Is Organic Red Wine?
The most elementary definition of organic wine is a wine made from organically farmed grapes. Groundbreaking, right? But what constitutes organic farming? Well, the standards vary from country to country. Generally, they exclude the application of artificial chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides.
The second phase of winemaking, the process of fermentation, also plays a part in whether a wine is organic or not. This is where things get more confusing because several inputs can be added to the fermentation process. These ingredients must be allowed explicitly for organic certification and cannot exceed 5% of the total product. More specifically, sulfites cannot be added to wine to obtain organic certification throughout the fermentation process. Wine naturally produces some sulfites. However, they cannot be added. In European countries like Italy, the sulfite level cannot be greater than 100 mg per liter for a red wine like a cabernet, Bordeaux, or pinot noir to receive organic certification.
Additionally, organic winemaking bans any GMOs or other non-permitted additives. One of the most notable omissions from conventional winemaking is the absence of coloring agents and concentrated wine additives such as Mega Purple and other flavoring agents like malic acid and caramel.
Suppose a wine is made from organic grapes and fails to receive organic certification during the winemaking process. In that case, winemakers are still permitted to use the label "Made with Organically Grown Grapes." Therefore, if you are looking for a certified organic wine, it is essential to check its labels carefully.
Is Organic Red Wine Healthier?
Why should we care if red wine is organic, and why are more people drinking more organic wines? For starters, the absence of manipulation during both the growing and producing wines often leads to more natural wine. As such, many argue that organic wines best express both the grape and the terroir better.
There is also a peace of mind aspect that comes with drinking organic red wine. Knowing that you are consuming a wine that is free of pesticides and additives allows one to know they are genuinely enjoying something healthier. In general, organic wine grapes are more nutritious and produce heartier skins and, therefore, higher antioxidants concentrations. Organic wines also happen to be free of residual traces of vineyard additives like pesticides and herbicides.
Another plus of certified organic wines is that they have less sugar than more processed wines. Additionally, they do not contain any flavoring agents or caramel coloring. These additives, in addition to higher sugar levels, are what usually leads to headaches and hangovers.
Organic Wine Has Fewer Sulfites
As discussed, organic wine has fewer sulfites. However, wine does have naturally occurring sulfites. But, let's take a step back. What are sulfites? Sulfites are preservatives that are very commonly used in the winemaking process to preserve a wine's natural freshness. In general, they are harmless to wine lovers. Because they are a naturally occurring byproduct of fermentation, sulfites are in nearly all wines. Without sulfites, wines would oxidize very quickly and, therefore, ruin the wine's freshness and flavor.
Understandably, some wine drinkers are opposed to sulfites in wine because they perceive them as an unnatural addition. But, as we've shared, sulfites can also be a natural byproduct of yeast metabolism that occurs during fermentation. So, even if winemakers do not use sulfites to preserve and protect the wine's flavor, sulfites are likely naturally present.
Organic Wine Has Fewer Additives
Again, for a wine to receive the label "Made with Organic Grapes" or "Made with Organically Grown Grapes," the wine must be created with organic grapes. However, these wines can also include sulfites.
To be classified as organic wine and consequently, have the USDA organic seal, a wine cannot include sulfites. This wine category must also be made from only organically grown grapes and still may contain naturally occurring sulfites less than 20 parts per million.
Lower Alcohol Content
If you enjoy the taste of wine, then a wine having lower alcohol content is a massive win for you because it means you can have a few glasses without experiencing the not-so-fun next-day side-effects of having wine, whether you're indulging with a zinfandel, a prosecco, a cabernet sauvignon, a chardonnay, or a merlot. This is true whether your wine is from Napa, California or a sparkling wine varietal from Sicily.
Is Organic Wine Better for the Environment?
Organic wine is, in fact, better than the environment. There are some noticeable and lasting benefits for the environment. Organic vines and grapes need less water because their soils are built with compost and contain more organic matter. These soils can hold water far better. Moreover, organic vines are more resilient against increasing droughts and temperature rises.
By reducing harmful and needless irrigation practices, organic wineries protect local ecosystems and preserve their surrounding flora and fauna. Using less water and not contaminating the existing water supply with chemicals, vineyard workers can leave the earth as healthy as they found it.
Possible Health Benefits of Organic Red Wine
Overall, red wine is the healthiest, best organic wine you can drink because of how red wine is made. When white wine is created, grapes are pressed, and seeds, skins, and stems are removed before fermentation. With red wine, the red grapes are transported to vats immediately, and they ferment with their seeds, skins, and stems. The grape skin gives the wine its color and is why red wine has a few more healthy compounds than white wine.
Grape skin holds beneficial antioxidants that are known to encourage good health. Mainly, polyphenol resveratrol is how red wine has health benefits. Research implies that resveratrol may be the fundamental ingredient in red wine that can decrease harmful cholesterol levels, prevent harm to blood vessels, and lower blood clots' risk.