In the wake of recent years there has been a great boom in our nation in regards to the widespread growth and demand for organic and biodynamic red wine. There are however, some distinct differences in what precisely defines the terms, “organic” and “biodynamic”.
We will further be discussing some of these variables, and enlightening you on what exactly you should be looking for in terms of them both.
Let’s touch briefly upon the history of how organic red wine even came about. The northern parts of California are where most claim that the roots of organic red wine are lain. One of the largest and first producers of organic red wine, is Fetzer vineyard. Owner, Barney Fetzer, was seeking a way to incorporate wine as a social drink, and it struck him to add food in order to do so. He decided to build a restaurant just outside the door to his wine cellar, and hired a chef who wanted a garden to provide fresh produce for the foods listed on his menu.
When business started booming, a gardener was hired to tend the garden. By lucky chance, this particular gardener was highly knowledgeable on organic growth in vegetables and fruit, and in turn this organic passion spread to the grape-tenders and winemakers, who soon began growing their grapes in small batches in much the same way as the gardener. With success, the first organic red wines began to be produced. Soon after, the entire vineyard was organic.
You may have seen or heard of organic wine, and perhaps thought to yourself, “what specifically makes red wine organic?” Is it in the grapes? Or the nature in the way the grapes are grown and harvested? Or is it simply in the process of the red wine production? Well, to be quite honest, the answer lies in all three of these questions. Organic red wine is wine that is grown, harvested and produced free of pesticides, artificial fertilizers, or any other synthetic chemicals. Wooden presses and casks are also used in the wine-making process to avoid any metal contaminants entering the wine. When you are purchasing an organic red wine take a look at what the label says:
A label showing “100% Organic”, carries the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) organic seal of which the agency must be certified and listed. This particularly states that the red wine is grown of entirely organically grown grapes, that have been monitored through their entire growth process. The red wine can only contain natural sulfites (sulfur dioxide), which is an antimicrobial substance, in less than 100 ppm (parts per million).
If a label bears only “Organic”, while this is also USDA certified, only 95% of the red wine is in actuality organic. The additional 5% are inorganic ingredients, however the laws per natural sulfite limitations remain the same as the “100% Organic” seal.
Interestingly, a label bearing “Made with Organic Ingredients” or “Made with Organic Grapes”, only contain only about 70% of natural, organic ingredients. Artificial sulfites can additionally be added, however not more than 100 ppm as well. This type of certification does not carry the USDA seal.
Now, that you are aware of what to look for and how to read into these particular labels you will come in contact with on your search for a great bottle of organic red wine, you will also be interested to note what exactly biodynamic red wine is.
To start, the concept of biodynamic’s first came about by an Austrian philosopher by the name of Rudolf Steiner, in the early 20th century. The concept is built around the idea of close observation in an attempt to maintain the perfect balance of nature. So, biodynamic winemakers are bringing their vineyards to as close to perfection in terms of this particular balance in nature as they possibly can. Some watch the planets and stars to plot the way they should do things, they make their own soil compost, etc. The vineyard is seen as a beautiful living system, with everything playing an important role, from the soil to the animals, everything has it’s unique duty to perform in terms of bringing about the most perfect bottle of wine that could possibly be produced. There are at present time, over 450 biodynamic red wine producers all over the entire world, with regions varying from California, France, Italy and Australia.
The health benefits of organic and biodynamic red wines are remarkable. For those who suffer from head aches or migraines, drinking organic or biodynamic is a fantastic option, as there are so much fewer sulfites, namely artificial sulfites, within the organically grown options of red wine, there is a decreased risk of them taking such a nasty toll on your body. Another great advantage in drinking organic red wine, is that a good deal of anti-oxidants are destroyed in non-organic red wine versus organic red wine, so your body is taking in far more of these immune system boosters. In drinking organic or biodynamic you are literally, drinking to your health!
Organic and biodynamic red wines are not only beneficial to you, but they are great for the environment as well. According to a recent study, organic vineyards have very little impact on greenhouse gas emissions, as much more of the wine production process is done naturally. Organic and biodynamic vineyards also offer a safe haven for insects and animals in our precious ecosystem, whereas in traditional non-organic vineyards, the entire fields are cleared of every living thing except for the grapes themselves.
In terms of red wine tastings between organic and biodynamic versus non-organic or biodynamic it is simply a matter of opinion, however, in multiple blind taste tests biodynamic and organic have been favored over the latter. It’s important to choose what you enjoy, but to experience new things, and also be aware of great new options that are out there in terms of red wine. It is only an added bonus to know that some of the newer options are not only better tasting, but are better for your body, and also for your environment!