The fragrance, the flavour, the mellow texture of a glass of wine – all of this instantly boosts our mood. For this reason, among a plethora of others, wine has been on the table at some of the most important moments in our lives – from birthdays to graduation parties, engagements and weddings. So, let’s celebrate the best way we know – with a glass of good wine!
But if drinking wine is so fun, choosing the best bottle can be complicated. Especially, if you’re after an eco-friendly and healthier alternative that doesn’t contain the toxic additives standard wine often comes with.
If you’re following trends in health and sustainability, you probably noticed that organic, biodynamic and natural wines are having a moment. We can hear these terms being thrown around everywhere and bars and restaurants often have at least one such wine on the menu. But what do all these terms actually say about the wine? If you want to know more about these eco wines so that you can decide which is the best for you, read on, wine lover.
First, let’s discuss how is organic wine made. Organic wine is made with organic grapes and requires quite different production practices than regular wine. This includes the use of all-natural fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides. And if there are any additives – they must be organic.
In Australia, it’s an intensive process for a wine to be certified organic. To gain organic certification, the vineyard goes through extensive tests over a minimum of three years. And once certified, the vineyard needs to continue to meet the requirements. The prize? Being able to use the Australian Certified Organic logo as statement for their top quality products.
But since it’s quite expensive and complicated to go after this accreditation, some manufacturers produce wine using organic principles but without it being truly organic. So, be careful when you shop and always look for eco wines that have the Australian Certified Organic logo.
And does organic wine taste better? Well, this wine is noticeably different than regular wine because you can get a taste of the natural grapes without the chemicals. This means you will get the genuine flavour of wine and be able to taste the terroir.
This wine is a level up from organic wine which is why it’s often called the “supercharged organic”. The key difference is that making biodynamic wine takes a holistic approach to agriculture where plants, animals and the solar system are considered to be interrelated. This wine-making process involves the use of a biodynamic calendar and its four categories. Each of these categories coincides with one of the four elements and shows the best days for harvesting, watering, pruning and resting.
The majority of the processes involved in the production of biodynamic wine occur before the wine-making even happens. For instance, no chemicals or artificial additives are allowed in growing biodynamic grapes. Because of this, winemakers need to make natural compost to bolster their vineyards. The natural compost can be made in many ways. One commonly used method is stuffing cow horns with compost that is buried and reused. Apparently, this is because the cow horn is a symbol of abundance. The natural components in the compost include everything from manure to stinging nettles.
When it comes to taste, biodynamic wines tend to exhibit the taste of the terroir better than organic wines do. Although there are many wineries that use genuine biodynamic practices, not all of them are labelled this way. The main reason for that is the costly process of being labelled biodynamic by the Demeter Association. So, many wineries don’t bother about receiving this recognition.
Is natural wine the same as organic wine? No. Natural wines are largely unregulated, which means they may not be an organic wine. And while organic and biodynamic wines focus on farming techniques, natural wines focus on wine production. In fact, these wines are all about minimal intervention, which means that technically, a natural wine could be produced using non-organic grapes.
In the production of natural wines, the grapes are hand-picked and selected. The juice is not pumped, which means there is no mechanical separation. This also means that the alcohol content isn’t regulated by sugar or acid, and the wine can only be fermented by naturally occurring yeast.
If you’re after a drink that’s low in sulphites, natural wines are your go-to. They generally have none added and you may only have to deal with the naturally occurring ones. Because of this. you need to drink these wines quickly.
Since natural wines are generally unfiltered, you can often recognise them by their cloudiness and sediment. Their taste is often less refined and wilder, so you need to decant them to remove any odours. You will also experience naturally occurring flaws that are celebrated in the wine. So, be prepared for some really unusual and funky tastes. Due to offering a tasting experience like no other, natural wines are becoming increasingly popular among wine lovers.
Considering this, if you want to be surprised by the taste of your wine, try a natural wine. On the other hand, if you’re after a more traditional taste that’s closer to the one standard wine has, organic and biodynamic alternatives may be just right for you.