My husband and I love vino…particularly the red stuff. We are by no means wine experts. I tend to buy bottles with pretty labels and my hubby is all about the price point. You get the picture. In honour of this blog and a lively Saturday night, I decided to delve into the world of organic wine with the help of our friends. Some of our pals are very knowledgeable about wine, and some choose other beverages to quench their thirst. I think our panel of 9 testers were a good representation of the different levels of wine drinkers out in the wine universe.
My reasons for trying organic wine are as follows:
- Hmmm…great reason to have a party!
- I am interested in avoiding toxic chemicals. Conventional wine and grape production heavily sprays with pesticides, herbicides, fumigants and chemicals. The fewer chemicals we ingest, the better off we are.
- I would like to support renewable farming practices, conservation of soil, protection of ground water quality, healthy biologically active soil, and producers that emphasis environmental quality for future generations.
- I am concerned about our consumption of sulphites. Organic certification means it must not contain sulphur dioxide. Health Canada lists sulphites as one of the nine most common food products causing severe adverse reactions. Organic wine still contains sulphites (as they are a natural occurrence in the fermentation process) but they contain significantly lower levels.
Here is quick interpretation of terms on organic wine labels:
“100% Organic” means wine production is with 100% organically grown grapes with no sulphur dioxide added.
“Organic” wines contain a minimum of 95% organic grapes and may contain low levels of sulphur dioxide.
“Made with Organic Grapes” must have 70% organic grape content and could have sulphur dioxide added.
“Biodynamic” meets and typically exceeds organic farming standards and practices. Wine producers take planetary constellations and moon phases into account when working on the vines. Homeopathy practices fight pests and disease.
Boy, we have super fun friends!
Organic wine is hard to find. There are few bottles, limited selection in the stores and it is even harder to find anything Canadian.
Organic wine comes in all price points. It can range from $12 a bottle to prices so high I could not pick up the bottles with the pretence to buy. Our nine bottles tested – yes nine! -ranged from $12 -$44.
3 of the bottles sampled received comments like “disgusting”, “undrinkable” and other negative words I cannot repeat. (hamster pee) We all felt that the majority of wine sampled was disappointing and overpriced.
On a positive note, we agreed two wines were the overwhelming favourites: Santa Julia Organica Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($12) from Argentina and Navarrsotillo Noemus Joven 2007 from Spain. ($14) If you are interested in trying organic wine these are our (humble) suggestions for a good, reasonably priced starting place. We did try a Biodynamic wine that received positive reviews; however, after learning the large price tag, my husband fainted and we unanimously eliminated it from recommendation.
This is a growing and promising industry. The health and environmental benefits are inspiring reasons to try new vintages. I am optimistic we will find some wonderful Canadian organic wines. Please let me know if you find a gem. In the meantime, Cheers! L’Chaim! Kampai! Cin Cin! & Salud!