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While organic produce may be increasing in popularity, it is surprising how many organic devotees give little thought to their wine. Wine is made from grapes, a highly pesticide-sprayed crop, which would lead many to believe that purchasing organic wine would be a top priority for health-conscious wine drinkers.
But are wines often affected by pesticide and herbicide use? What are sulfites, and should you worry about their presence in your wine? And finally, is it really worth it to go organic when it comes to your vino?
Organic vs. Biodynamic
While grapes are indeed a highly sprayed crop, a USDA organic label may be slightly less meaningful in winemaking than it is in other areas of agriculture. To be certified organic in the United States, winemakers must not only avoid using pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals on their grapes, they must also steer clear of sulfites, which many winemakers prefer not to do ? wine lovers tend not to like the taste of sulfite-free wine. As a result, many of the highest-quality, top-rated wines out there do not apply for an organic label.
So how can you avoid pesticides and herbicides in your wine while and ensure you’re getting a high-quality vino without sacrificing flavor? Many wine lovers look instead for the word “biodynamic” in wines. Though not regulated by the USDA, this term is used by fine wine makers to refer to a synergistic growing process that encompasses natural, eco-friendly practices and the avoidance lack of chemicals and additives.
Sulfites in Wine
Okay, so you’re on the hunt for a naturally grown biodynamic vino that is?crafted in a rich environment and lovingly crafted by expert winemakers. Should you worry about sulfites?
The truth is, sulfites ? essentially, sulfur that is naturally occurring in wine and also added to wine as a preservative to keep its flavor stable ? aren’t a big deal for people who are not sensitive to them. According to Wine Folly, 5 to 10 percent of people have asthma sensitivities to sulfites, which can cause major health issues if sulfites are consumed in excess. For these people, sulfite-free wines are probably a must. But for everyone else, they’re probably not a huge deal. And furthermore, if you are concerned about reducing your sulfite exposure but feel that a high-quality, artisan wine is a treat you enjoy, you may be better served by giving up french fries or dried fruit, both of which contain much larger amounts of sulfites than wines.
Where to Find High-Quality Wines
In case you haven’t already gathered, finding a high-quality, non-toxic wine can be difficult, because wine growers don’t tend to want to sacrifice the quality of their wine (which does happen when sulfites are removed) for an organic label. Here are some tips for finding safe, high-quality wines you can trust:
Ask the attendant at a small, locally owned wine store to point you in the direction of wines that are not sold and distributed by large, behemoth companies. Smaller distributors tend to carry wines that are made by true wine artisans and small vineyards.
Purchase your wine at a local vineyard to enjoy the specific terroir of your home region. Be sure to ask the vintner about their pesticide and herbicide use practices.
Look for wines labeled “biodynamic.”
Consider a subscription service such as Dry Farm Wines.
If you are vegan, be sure to look for wines that are labeled as “vegan,” as even USDA organic wines are allowed to filter their wines through animal-derived “fining agents,” according to Dr. Weil.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.
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