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It was Galileo who said that “Wine is sunlight, held together by water,” and what better way to keep warm in these cold winter months? Grab a glass of red or white, warm up, and let us share with you ways to put an eco-spin on your wine.
First of all, what is eco-friendly wine? At times, it can be just as complicated as eco-food. There are organic certifications that differ from city to city, sulfite levels to consider, and a plethora of definitions for biodynamic. Some wineries use less paper in their office and then call themselves sustainable.
Why should we bother with eco wine when it is so complicated? Let’s focus on the major issues to consider, and you can decide.
The definition of organic varies regionally. Many of us choose organic food to avoid ingesting harmful chemicals, and wine is no different. Most organic wine will be labeled as such, but know that the definition of the organic process is unique to city in which the wine is made. If wine is labeled organic, at minimum you can be sure that it will contain fewer chemicals. We recommend trying organic wines from Italian regions like Piedmont and Tuscany, as well as Chile and California, for great examples.
What about biodynamic wines? Biodynamic practices are a relatively new phenomenon being embraced by the some of the top wineries of the world, including Domaine Leroy in Burgundy and Maison Chapoutier in the Rhone Valley. Biodynamic methods are some of the most interesting and bizarre in the agricultural world, yet they are credited with saving some of the most chemically ravaged regions in France. Biodynamic practices are essentially a method of caring for both the physical and spiritual components of the land. The result is natural, chemical-free wines that are as artisanal as artisanal gets. More and more, biodynamic wines are beating out traditional wines in taste tests. Look for the biodynamic label in French regions of Alsace, Rhone and California.
What are sulfites? Sulfites occur naturally as a bi-product of fermentation. They are also added as a preservative and antioxidant in wines and across the food industry. A small percentage of people are allergic or sensitive to sulfites, but, for most, sulfite levels in wine are not of concern. Though no wine will be sulfite free, you can look for low-sulfite wine if you are sensitive to sulfites or are opposed to additives.
Natural or sustainable wines? Unfortunately, these labels are not very well regulated. You will have to research the vineyard to know for sure. The goal is to find a vineyard that cares for the land they farm and the community it resides in. To complicate things, there are many wines that are organic but do not label, perhaps due to a lack of available certification in their region or an arduous certification process.
At the end of the day, wine should be consumed out of passion—enjoy whatever makes you happy. Look for organic or biodynamic labels, talk to your local wine expert, and do your own research. The options are plentiful, and we hope you find
the balance that’s right for you.