Over recent years, organic wines have experienced noticeable growth in popularity. While some have already made the switch to organic/natural wine, many remain hesitant or simply unaware of the difference.
In general terms, organic relates to wine that is produced without chemical additives and minimal intervention. The organic or natural title also relates to the practices employed at the vineyard level, from growing to picking and fermentation.
The Issue with Commercial Wines:
Before a conventional commercial wine hits the shelves, it may be loaded with additives including colour enhancers, thickeners, flavour enhancers, and tannins. In some cases, this tactic is used to mask lower quality grapes. In addition, these wines generally feature high amounts of sulphur.
Lower Alcohol Content:
A crucial difference between organic wines and their traditional counterparts lies in the alcohol content level. As organic varieties are produced with a lower alcohol percentage (ABV), you are less likely to be saddled with a crippling hangover the next morning.
The reason why natural wines have a lower ABV content circle back to the fermentation process. During the creation of conventional commercial wines, it is commonplace to add sugar and other preservatives. This typically results in a higher overall alcohol percentage within each bottle.
If you are someone that loves a glass of wine but often struggles with the aftereffects, organic wines could be a great alternative.
Amid our current climate crisis, sustainable agriculture is more crucial than ever before. Beyond the obvious environmental implications, we must also do our part to preserve natural wildlife and biodiversity.
So, how exactly does the natural winemaking process differ from conventional methods?
This specific style of winemaking is generally referred to as ‘biodynamic’. A biodynamic vineyard operates through an interconnected ecosystem that utilises natural flora, fauna, and soil below the vines. Biodynamic winemaking involves
- No artificial additives to stimulate the soil
- No pesticides for crop defence; and
- No post-harvest corrections
Overall, this approach could be classified as holistic, based on the belief that each vine is spiritually linked to the natural environment in which it grows – matching fruit and lunar cycles, for instance.
When consumed in reasonable quantities, natural/organic wines are an excellent choice for health-conscious drinkers – particularly when compared to wines with high sugar or alcohol content. This approach is based on the premise that consuming better quality wine (with less sugar, sulphites, and additives) allows you to feel better after every glass.
In an overall sense, moderate wine intake has been linked to a variety of health benefits.
Unfortunately, there are many hidden additions to conventional wines in regular circulation. Some of these products were noted above. One group directly affected by organic wine’s lower sugar level are those in ketosis. High sugar varieties can throw the delicate balance off and send it back into sugar-burning mode.
Lower Sugar Content:
Following on directly from our previous point, one of the major reasons behind the rising popularity of organic wines is due to their lower sugar content. As a direct comparison, some sweet white wines may contain as much as 15 grams of sugar per glass. Red wine is typically lower, yet once again, sweeter blends are far from sugar free.
Of course, grapes still have natural sugars. However, the difference here centres on the fermentation process. Sugar is generally added for the purpose of increasing a wine’s alcohol percentage. The sweetness of each blend’s flavour is primarily a result of the style of grape used, not added sugar.
Low in Sulphite:
Sulphites are naturally occurring minerals that arise during the fermentation process. Therefore, all wines will feature some level of sulphite. Organic winemakers, however, often aim to actively limit the amount included in every bottle. Some natural wines come with no more than 50ppm sulphites, while commercial varieties may have as much as 250ppm.
Exposure to sulphites is a trigger for certain individuals. For example, those with allergies, food intolerances, hives, and even asthma all stand to benefit from lower sulphite level. Thanks to the unique processes of natural winemaking, people in these groups can still enjoy a glass of red or white in moderation.
A New World of Flavour:
One of the first things you’ll notice about natural wines is their unique flavour and feel. While like everything it can take a little getting used to, many swear by the taste of organic blends. For example, a sourer flavour is typical for certain organic varieties.
Another aspect common to organic wines is fizz. Commercial winemakers tend to proactively remove excess gas from natural produce during fermentation. In terms of appearance, natural wines tend to be more cloudy than conventional wines. This occurs because they aren’t filtered and therefore include more natural sediment.
The world of vegan friendly foods and beverages continues to expand. Organic wines are no exception. While you may have never associated wine with any sort of animal concerns, the unfortunate truth is that some are unknowingly hurt in the course commercial winemaking.
When large machinery is used for picking purposes, small animals such as rodents, birds and insects can get caught up in the crossfire. Hand-picked natural wines are a safety net to ensure that this doesn’t occur. Another area of concern surrounds the use of animal products as additives or enhancements. Products in use across commercial wineries include gelatine and egg whites.
The Natural Side:
From prioritising the health of the drinker to the health of our natural environment, organic wines represent a new wave of winemaking. If you are intrigued by any of the factors listed above, your best bet is to explore the wide array of options offered by natural wine cellars.
Natural wine is also nothing new. These fundamental organic practices have existed for thousands of years. The difference today is that modern biodynamic farmers have embraced the traditions of old and added their own unique twist. While natural wines aren’t for everyone, organic wines could be just the perfect alternative you’ve always been looking for.