In recent years there has been an increase in demand for products that are both better for us and also better for mother nature. You no longer have to go to the health food shops to find organic food. Wine is no different. It is also a trend that is set to continue growing with organic wine sales expected to almost double over the next couple of years.
With this continued rise and our own focus on organic wines, we thought it would be a good idea to answer a few questions we get asked on this subject.
What is Organic Wine?
So first of all let’s explain what makes a wine organic. Organic wine is made using only certified organic grapes, grown without any synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and chemical fertilisers. Since 2012, new winemaking regulations meant that the whole process, from harvest to bottle could be certified and the term ‘Organic Wine’ could be used.
To grow organic grapes, a vineyard must follow some very different agricultural practices. In simple terms, this means using more natural techniques than is used in conventional methods and maintaining the health and condition of their vines. Conventional methods may mean the vines will be sprayed with pesticides and herbicides to prevent any unwanted weeds and insects.
Now, no wine maker is going to want to use these sprays on the vines, let’s face it, spraying the vines costs time and money and that is something we all try and avoid wasting. However, wineries that are organic or biodynamic (we will come to that at a later date along with natural wines) simply will avoid the use of anything that isn’t a natural resource. They believe in prevention rather than the cure, it takes a lot of work and no little skill to do this.
The wine maker will look to work with nature rather than against it. For example, they will introduce cover crops which will provide a natural habitat for beneficial insects that are the natural enemy of problem species or have small sheep graze between the vine rows to eat the grass and weeds.
But Doesn’t Organic Wine Cost More?
This is a difficult one but a question we come up against quite often when talking about the benefits of organic wines. There certainly are some additional costs for the winery as they have to pay to be certified and this can be quite expensive, especially if it is a small boutique winery. The wine maker will also have to factor in the risk that they don’t have the safety net of being able to spray the crops if it is a particularly bad year for the crop and could lose a sizeable chunk of the harvest although they do mitigate for this with prevention techniques.
Also, growing wines organically takes both time and effort and no little skill. Whilst this will be reflected in the cost of the wine it will also be reflected in the quality of the wine. You are not going to find mass produced, bland table wine that you can find at the end of an aisle being grown organically. However, we have found some unbelievably good value wines at below the £10 point recently (we have listed a couple below) and these offer great value.
I guess, as with all things, you get what you pay for.
Does Organic Equal No Hangovers?
Unfortunately there is no guarantee that drinking a glass too much of your favourite organic tipple will mean you won’t get a hangover. For some people though it is the sulphites and added preservatives that can cause them to have quite heavy hangovers and organic wines can help reduce these symptoms if this is the case.
Alcohol is alcohol, and unless you are one of the very few people who seem to not suffer in the morning then you will still feel the effects.