Healthy drinking? Hangover-free wine?!? Could it be true? What is this all about? You will no doubt have heard the ongoing buzz and huge marketing campaigns for everything ‘organic’. Organic vegetables and fruit, organic skincare products and yes, even organic wine. Some claim that if you stick to the organic stuff when choosing wine, you won’t get hungover, and that it is actually good for you (in moderate proportions of course). There was too much intrigue for us, so we thought we’d dive deeper into what makes an organic wine organic, and how good it actually is for you.
First of all, there are two types of wine getting a shine of media light in this space, they are organic wines and biodynamic wines.
An organic wine is also sometimes referred to as a ‘natural’ wine. Producing organic wine is the same as per other common organic farming methods. This means using no artificial chemical fertilisers, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, or other synthetic chemicals. Interestingly, an organic wine does not actually mean that the wine is free from additives. The major difference when comparing organic wine with organic foods is the use of the chemical sulphur dioxide. Sulphur dioxide is used in wine as a preservative to increase its shelf life. Don’t think for a second organic wine is necessarily suitable for vegans either, as there are other additives also sometimes in there, including things like yeast, egg whites, and animal enzymes that are allowed in organic wines, but unfortunately mean they’re not always so vegan-friendly.
Organic wines are regulated differently, depending on which part of the world they come from. The United States for example state (see what I did there!) organic wine must not contain added sulphites, which hinders the wine’s shelf life and alters its taste. The reason could possibly be due to the fact that some people are actually allergic to sulphites. Practically, this means that if you know of anyone with strong allergies, an organic wine from the USA could be a safe choice for a dinner party!
Organic wines are even changing the look of vineyards. Low-growing plants are being used and planted in between vine rows that host beneficial insects that keep the more sinister pest insects under control, in place of using environmentally damaging chemical sprays.
Biodynamic wine is taking the organic winemaking method one step further. Biodynamic agriculture is very similar to organic farming: both take place without the use of chemicals. It was created by a guy called Rudolf Steiner, and is one of the first organic agricultural movements. It emphasises soil fertility, plant growth and livestock care as being core to its ecosystem. Some methods use astrological influences and lunar cycles which create sowing and planting calendars, making it a complex method of farming. Pretty much, it’s when the stars align that biodynamic farmers are out there sowing their fields.
It may sound a little out there, but any winemaker who puts this much effort into growing grapes and making wine has a reasonable chance of making a good drop!
You’re going to love this, the answer is yes and no. The environment is definitely better off when chemicals and poisons aren’t sprayed all over it. Organic grapes taste a hell of a lot better too when you eat them off the vine, but wine still contains alcohol. If you drink too much, you could (hopefully) smile and have a good time, but also in excess, do potential damage to some internal parts that you may need - whether the wine is organic or not.
In saying that, there are studies that show that drinking two glasses of red wine a night before bed can help you lose weight, thanks to an antioxidant called resveratrol which turns ‘white fat’ into ‘beige fat’ - the latter being easier to burn off. The study did outline that this only applies to two glasses of wine per night, so we do apologise to those of you getting a bit excited! We’ve written a whole other blog post on this, actually, found here.
It’s also worth noting that organic wine contains half the maximum legal limit of sulphur dioxide, with non-organic wines usually containing significantly more than half - which is the main cause of shocking hangovers the next day. So whilst we wouldn’t say they are hangover free, they can certainly be a safer option when drinking wine if you’re prone to the next-day headaches and stomach upset.
Now that you’ve read this, you will probably spot organic wine everywhere! To know if your wine is truly organic, simply check that it’s certified.
Demeter is a form of certification to look out for. It’s a worldwide system used in over 50 countries to verify to consumers that food or products have been biodynamically produced. The Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association is the certifier for Demeter in New Zealand.
BioGro is the gold standard for New Zealand organic certifications. BioGro certify and accredit over 750 producers, farmers and manufacturers. They are owned by the Soil and Health Association which is the largest membership organisation supporting organic foods and farming. The BioGro logo guarantees that a product is made without animal testing, genetic modification or the routine use of synthetic pesticides... it is the mark of a genuine organic product in New Zealand.
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