Organic Wine, Simplified
Wyeth Tvenge, of WineWise in Greenwich, answers organic wine questions
Organic wine is supposed to be simple. No fertilizers, sustainable, and natural. Yet, choosing an organic wine is not always easy. Luckily sommelier and WineWise Greenwich Manager Wyeth Tvenge answers the top questions about organic wines. So next time you take a sip, you know exactly what’s in your glass.
What makes wine organic?
At one point in history prior to widespread pesticide use, most every wine produced was organic. Nowadays, two general organic categories are found in the wines:
- Wines produced using certified organically grown grapes and without synthetic additives.
- Organic wines produced with organically grown grapes without adding any more sulfites than those that are naturally occurring.
How is organic wine made?
At the most basic level, organic wine begins with organic vineyard practices. The grapes can either be certified organic or grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, fertilizer, fungicides, and herbicides.
What are the top organic wines out there?
There are many, many organic wines I could mention. Domaine Leroy from France comes to mind if you have deep pockets. On a more down to earth level, Robert Sinskey produces consistently great wine from organic grapes. Also, Zind Humbrecht from Alsace is a leader. A lot of the wines from Chile are practicing organic– they may not want to pay to get certified considering the climate and elevation eliminates the need for pesticides anyway.
How does the quality of the wine compare?
Major factors influencing the quality of the wine include the vintage, the vineyard, harvest timing, and the skill of the winemaker. When these factors are aligned towards quality, I notice wine made from organically grown grapes to possess better flavor and aromas much like the better flavors found in organic fruits and vegetables.
What should you look for on the label when comparing organic wines?
As far as labels go, some wines display the fact they are organic while plenty of great wines don’t even mention that they are made with organic grapes. Just ask your sommelier– they will know. Biodynamic certification from Demeter or Biodyvin also means the wine was produced from organic grapes plus special attention to the vineyard and its ecosystem. Once you have seen their symbols, they are easy to spot again. I’d investigate labels only mentioning “sustainable” to see what it may really mean.
So, simply sip and enjoy!
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