What You Need to Know About Organic Wine

Food, Wine
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We are used to seeing organic eggs, organic fruit and organic milk at the supermarket. Lately, organic wine has begun to appear on the shelves at wine shops. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or a social drinker, you might have wondered what exactly makes organic wine different than traditional wine.

“Organic wine is the emphasis on growing grapes with natural remedies and enhancements, rather than manufactured fertilizers and pesticides,” said Erica Witte, owner of The Poison Cup, a wine and art boutique in Chicago.

Some of the remedies that wine growers use as alternatives to pesticides include companion crops, which entice friendly animal and insect species that mitigate the population of other vine-damaging species; cover crops, that utilize crab grass, clover and poppies to help control waste water runoff, water usage, and soil nutrient levels; and composting, which helps to replenish soil nutrients with recycled plant and animal waste from the vineyard, such as grape skins that have already been pressed and crushed.

“Anyone who is concerned about the planet’s lack of potable water should consider trading traditional wines for organic,” Witte said. “It’s also perfect for anyone skeptical of FDA-approved pesticides or fertilizers.”

Organic wine also prohibits the use of sulfites, which is a hot button issue for many consumers. However, wine-drinkers should keep in mind that small amounts of sulfites occur naturally in wines, even in “sulfite-free” wines.

If you’re thinking of making the foray into organic wines, Witte suggests learning a little bit about the vineyard where the wine is produced to get the best sense for whether or not you will enjoy a specific wine. Witte also recommended three of her favorite organic wines that offer balance flavor for anyone looking to add to his or her wine collection.

Organic Wine Pairings

Chono Rose Syrah: Made from 40-year old syrah vines grown on the very west limit of the Maipo Valley, Chile, this is a good example of a wine produced by progressive winemakers who have adapted sustainable practices. The wine demonstrates good acidity, bright berry fruits, and a clean refreshing finish.

Pair with: White Bean and Arugula Pasta Salad, Spicy Pepper Jack Bruschetta with Mango Salsa, Asparagus Tart with Prosciutto & Parmesan

Montinore Estate Muller-Thurgau Pinot Noir: Made on an estate that manages 230 acres of grapes in the Willamette Valley Oregon, this wine is farmed using the strict methods of Biodynamic farming. Made from an obscure German grape varietal, it is an easy to drink wine with hints of floral and citrus.

Pair with: Pistachio Crusted Pork Chops, Bacon Caesar Salad

Matsu “El Picaro”, Toro, Spain: Made from 90-year-old Tempranillo vines grown using biodynamic techniques, this wine is part of a trilogy whose labels chronicle three generations of winemakers in northern Spain. “El Picaro” is the brightest, fruitiest, most youthful wine with a rustic, old-world edge.

Pair with: Baked Salmon with Dijon Glaze, Easy Shrimp Paella, Flourless Chocolate Cake

Originally Posted in November 2010 on Skimbaco Lifestyle.

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20 Comments

  • Reply
    Laura @ SweetSavoryPlanet
    June 30, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    There are many vineyards that use organic practices but are not labeled organic. Meeting all the criteria for being certified organic can be expensive and difficult for some vineyards to achieve particularly if they are small. Every country has different standards for this. I think this is an interesting issue because we can’t completely rely on the label and knowing your wines can be impractical. I buy organic produce and do not like the use of pesticides but in some cases I can understand limited use. All that being said, I have a tendency to believe that organic practices produce a better product and therefore a better glass of wine. Very thought provoking. Thanks Maris.

  • Reply
    lisa @ smart food and fit
    June 30, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Thanks for the info on organic vs. conventional. I wish it was in my budget to buy organic wine on a regular basis, that’s probably the biggest reason why I don’t drink much! I’ll have to try the ones you suggested and make a list next time I go to Whole Foods!

  • Reply
    purabi naha
    June 30, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Your info on wine is very insightful. We don’t have wine, but we do appreciate a good article on wine…loved your post!

  • Reply
    Beth @ DiningAndDishing
    June 30, 2011 at 9:08 am

    We drank some organic champagne just last night! My sis is a HUGE organic food advocate so when I saw that bottle, I just knew I had to get it for her :).

  • Reply
    bellini
    June 30, 2011 at 8:53 am

    More and more vineyards are going organic and using biodynamic initiatives. I get my grape leaves from a local orgnaic vineyard.

  • Reply
    Blond Duck
    June 30, 2011 at 6:21 am

    I didn’t know you could have organic wine!

  • Reply
    Gina (The Candid RD)
    June 30, 2011 at 6:13 am

    I have heard that their are “organic pesticides” that are also a little on the sketchy side, and that cannot be trusted…have you heard about this at all?? I am definitely concerned about the amount of potable water on our Earth, but I think we need to make better rules about water usage, period. We just let it go to waste so easily.
    I’ve never tried organic wine, but I’ll have to consider it the next time I buy some!

  • Reply
    Maureen
    June 30, 2011 at 5:41 am

    I have trouble drinking a red wine with added sulfites but organic wines go down like silk. 🙂 Wonderful post!

  • Reply
    Barbara
    June 30, 2011 at 5:28 am

    Really an interesting post, Maris. (The wine boutique’s name rather stopped me for a sec; clever, but perhaps best not with anything you ingest.)

    I’ll definitely try one or more of your suggested wines. I imagine the price is higher, right? That’s so often the case, understandably, with organic anything.

  • Reply
    kankana
    June 30, 2011 at 1:13 am

    Oh boy! That’s a lot of interesting info 🙂 I recently became more of a wine girl and less of a vodka girl . I seriously never heard of organic wine before. Thanks for sharing !

  • Reply
    peachkins
    June 29, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    still learning my wines here…

  • Reply
    Angela
    June 29, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    I am loving your wine posts. It is like attending a wine class with a great teacher:)

  • Reply
    yummychunklet
    June 29, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    Great list! You’ve given me some good ideas for this holiday weekend.

  • Reply
    rebecca
    June 29, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    sounds a great thing to me

  • Reply
    Courtney
    June 29, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    My husband and I took a trip to Walla Walla, Washington, where there are a ton of wineries. We learned a lot about organic wine – and saw some of the vineyards. It was fascinating. Thanks for posting about them!

  • Reply
    Dishes of Mrs. Fish
    June 29, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    I typically do wine tastings on Fridays with friends at Whole Foods and my favorites have always been the organic wines! 🙂

  • Reply
    Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga
    June 29, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Thanks for the post and I LOVE vineyard hopping and wine tastings 🙂

  • Reply
    Liz
    June 29, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Great info…I hadn’t thought much about organic wine, but glad the market is growing.

  • Reply
    polwig
    June 29, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Great post, thank you for the list of wines that I should try 🙂

  • Reply
    Three-Cookies
    June 29, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Interesting and informative. Sulfites – in addition to it occurring naturally, I also read that sulfites have been used in wine making for centuries. Could not help but notice the name of the boutique – The Poison Cup, and she is talking about pesticides:)

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