4 Things you need to know about organic wine

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Organics are everywhere -- from the bread aisle to the produce stand. But wines? There are some, but not that many. However, according to a recent article in the Star-Telegram, more people are asking for and purchasing organic wines. Here’s what you need
Organics are everywhere -- from the bread aisle to the produce stand. But wines? There are some, but not that many. However, according to a recent article in the Star-Telegram, more people are asking for and purchasing organic wines. Here’s what you need to know about buying and drinking organic wines.

1.  Organic doesn’t always mean the same thing

“The true definition of organic wine depends on where the wine is produced,” says Tynan Szvetecz, an executive wine sommelier and senior wine instructor with the International Wine Guild Wine School.

How exactly does the definition differ? “For wines sold in America, the National Organic Program, the federal agency overseeing the production of organic food, has mandated that any wine claiming to be ‘organic’ must not contain any added sulfites. Wines merely claiming to be made with ‘organic grapes,’ however, aren't subject to these regulations,” says Szvetecz.

2.  Organic wine grapes are pesticide-free

Organic wines are also made with organic grapes which are grown with more natural techniques. “Essentially this means that the grapes are grown in a manner void of artificial fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides, and full of natural fertilizers. These vineyards also contain cover crops between their vines and work to attract beneficial insects (insects that will feed on harmful pests),” says Szvetecz.

3.  Getting certified isn’t easy

Just because a wine doesn’t say its organic doesn’t necessarily mean that the vineyard isn’t using organic practices. “It takes about 5 years for a winery to become certified organic but once they are they are they become fairly big fish in a small pond. A lot of winemakers practice sustainable farming but do not go through the rigamarole of certification,” says Wendy Tait, managing director and sommelier of the Park Avenue Club in New Jersey.

4.  Where to find it


Since organic wine is still relatively obscure, it can be hard to locate. Check your local retailers for their collections, and express your interest in having them carry more varieties. Also, you can find organic wine at some natural food stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. There are also several websites that specialize in organic wines.

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