The esteemed Environmental Working Group ranks grapes, both table and those used in the making of wine, on the group's Dirty Dozen list. The Dirty Dozen are the most contaminated fruits and vegetables raised through traditional farming practices. Previously, grapes had been in third place on the list. However, in 2016, the position of grapes improved slightly, landing in sixth place among the dirtiest produce.
No matter the exact point on the Dirty Dozen list, grapes are awash in harmful pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. Wine bottled from the fermentation of these grapes contains these detrimental elements. The ranking of grapes as among the Dirty Dozen underscores the need for a wine lover to take a close look at organic alternatives.
The flavor of organic wine
Experienced sommeliers typically swear that they readily can tell the difference between organic wines and the traditional alternatives. In fact, even less experienced wine lovers who enjoy a couple glasses with a great meal suggest that they can also taste a real difference between organic and traditional vineyard alternatives.
Overall, the consensus is that an organic wine is more flavorful and robust. The true flavor of the grape is more apparent in an organic derivation of the nectar of the gods.
Where to find organic wine
At this juncture in time, quality organic wines are showing up on the shelves of liquor stores of all types. This includes the larger liquor marts that are becoming more commonplace in many communities as well as the neighborhood or boutique retailer.
Bistros have become more attuned to the desire on the part of their patrons for organic wines. With increasing regularity, restaurants are taking the initiative to use organic wines in their entrée and dessert pairings.
More upscale bars have not been far behind. Concurrent with the increased availability of craft beer, many nicer pubs are adding organic wine alternatives to their better carafes.
The cost of organic wine
As typically is the case with organic products of all types, organic wines usually do carry a higher price tag than traditional alternatives. With that noted, as more organic wine is being brought to market each year, the idea of price parity between organic and traditional options likely is in the offing in the not too distant future.
Not all so-called organic wines are created equally
When seeking truly organic wine, a consumer must pay close attention to labeling. There are three types of wine that fall generally into the organic category.
One hundred percent organic wine is precisely what the label indicates. The wine comprises completely of organic ingredients and contains no added sulfites.
Organic wine contains 95 percent organic ingredients and does not contain added sulfites. A label that indicates that the wine is made with organic ingredients is at least 75 percent organic. Such a wine main contain added sulfites. Although technically certified as organic, these types of wine do not have a USDA organic seal.
As an aside, these represent the standards for organic wine in the United States. Other countries are less stringent about the inclusion of added sulfites. European wines can be classified as 100 percent organic, even if they contain added sulfites. This includes wines from popular regions of France, Italy and Germany.