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What You Need to Know About Organic Wine For The Right Choice!

Tue, 11/04/2014

What you need to know about Organic wine for the Right Choice

By Chris Jones, WSET ,Organic is all the rage these days in all consumable products, but what does it mean when it pertains to wine?  Well, there is a lot to consider when making wine choices, not only on organics, but this subject adds to the complexity so let me break it down for you so you can make an informed decision.

First, there are three degrees of organic wine with increasing purity: “Made with Organic Grapes,” “USDA Certified Organic” and, the ultimate in purity, “USDA Certified Organic-Sulfite Free.” 

Let’s talk a little about Sulfite Free.  Many consumers contribute sulfites to annoying side effects, like headaches, when they consume wine.  I’ve heard all sorts of remarks and conclusions, such as, “I can only drink white wine” or “I can only drink red wine” or “I don’t drink wine because sulfites give me headaches.”  In fact, less than 1% of Americans are truly allergic to sulfites, but many more contribute sulfites to their wine-drinking woes.

It is more likely that other additives in non-organic wines contribute to their symptoms (sometimes it’s just over consumption!), so going organic-sulfite free may have added benefits since all other additives and preservatives are also limited by the USDA.  When looking for Organic wines, go all the way. This is the best bet for those who experience any type of adverse effects from wine.

As with all other wines, the truth is on the label as long as you know what to look for:

Made with Organic Grapes” – This description means that the grapes are grown to USDA standards or other certifying agency, such as the CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers).  This means that the application of sulfur dioxide is limited to one application in the vineyard per growing season prior to bud-break, a time when the fruit is just forming.  The wine here is made from these organic grapes, but sulfites may be added to the wine throughout the winemaking process.

USDA Certified Organic Wine” – These wines always contain the USDA stamp on the label or back label.  This means that the wine itself, following fermentation and bottling, contains less than 10ppm dissolved sulfites in the wine.  These wines may also be labeled “Low Sulfites” to indicate that they meet the criteria.

USDA Certified Organic - No Detectable Sulfites” – These wines by far have the strictest requirements to meet.   No detectible sulfites means the wines have gone through a unique winemaking process that prevents nearly any remaining sulfites in the wine.  This literally means that there are no preservatives, organic or otherwise, in the wine: just grapes, yeast and wood (if applicable).  These are wines in there purest form and will oxidize more quickly in the bottle. 

To prevent spoilage, wine with no detectable sulfites will be bottled multiple times per year to preserve freshness and will drink well over the first 12 months from bottling.  Once opened, keep in the refrigerator for up to two days of enjoyment.

Organic wines are a great choice for everyday consumption and are typically inexpensive, often below $12.00 per bottle at retailers.  Our Daily Red is a leader in USDA Certified Organic Sulfite Free wine and is some of the best tasting and most popular wine with this certification.  They can be found widely available at local and specialty retailers around the US and Canada.