Organic Red Wine is rare. According to the USDA’s NOP (National Organic Program), a red organic wine is defined as “a wine made from organically grown grapes without any added sulfites”. This relatively new definition is how many “traditionally organic” wines are labeled.
Many that used to boast being an “Organic Wine” must now settle for the less sexy, but no less meaningful, “Made from Organic Grapes”.
Simplified, organic red wines and “Wines made from Organic Grapes” are produced using environmentally
friendly farming methods. Natural plants and herbs that repel bugs and disease are used in place of pesticides. Rainwater is often collected to irrigate the vines and compost piles are used to create nutrient-rich dirt.
Organic wines should have higher concentrations of resveratrol because the grapes, vines and soil have not been treated with pesticides to prevent fungus from growing. Remember, resveratrol is made naturally in the grapes to protect themselves from fungus.
Non-organic grapes are listed on the FDA’s “Dirty Dozen”, a list of foods where pesticides and chemicals are regularly found on food after being washed. Grapes made this list because vineyards spray grapes with these chemicals multiple times. They just don’t spray the grapes themselves, they also spray the vines and treat the soil with pesticides to prevent fungus, bacteria and other high volume preventers.
Organic Wine Labeling
To be considered certified organic wine, the winery cannot use harmful pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers. Also, the wine must be all of that AND not have any sulfites. Unlike the USDA’s rules for all other organic products, wines must be 100% organic – not 70%.
It is an exception that is being challenged in the industry. (Read here the opinion of Paolo Bonetti, CEO of Organic Vintners.)
Buying Organic Wine is Not Always Easy
If organic red wine is one of the latest crazes popping up in almost every magazine these days, why is it so hard to find a good variety of organic red wine? The main reason this is so hard is because different countries have different definitions of what makes the wine organic.
It seems that all countries agree that in order for the wine to be organic the grapes and farming techniques have to be earth friendly and nutrition friendly. The main difference between the countries is that some, like the U.S., believe that the wine also has to have zero added ingredients.
The USDA also charges a fee for the wine to carry their organic label and most of the wineries that are willing to pay this fee are American wineries. This cost carries an impact on the price you pay per bottle in more ways than one.
Countries outside of America normally will not pay the fee because it means nothing to the other countries that the wine is shipped to. Instead of having the USDA Stamp on the label they may say on the label the way the grapes were grown or will state that information on their website. This adds to the headache of trying to figure out if that bottle of Pinot Noir is organic or not.
Some wine stores are trying to make it easier on you by grouping the wines that they know are organic. Another way is to ask the people at the wine store. Most of them not only know which wines are organic but they have either tried it, read reviews or has had someone tell them whether or not it was a good organic red wine.
Another great why to find a good organic wine is to look on the internet by looking up organic wine suppliers and wineries in your area or companies that will ship the wine directly to you. There are also many food, organic, and wine magazines that post reviews of organic wines.