You know what wine is, and so its billions of fans around the world. Among them, the majority likes it for its taste, the relaxing effects and the health benefits, while a few are dead against it since it is after all an alcoholic drink and these people do not encourage consumption of alcohol. So, there is a contradiction. But let us drop the contradiction and go with the majority. This majority will be very happy to know that now there is something which will give them one more point in support of wine. That is, your favourite wine is now available in organic variant also. Surprised to hear that? You will be more surprised and happier when you know more about it. So, go on reading this stuff.
What is Organic Wine? Organic Wine is nothing but our good old well known wine, but this time made from the organic fruits, through an organic process and preserved organically. Wine, you know very well, is made predominantly from the grapes, black or white, and a few other fruits like apple, cashew apple etc. which contain sufficient sucrose or fructose in them to be converted to alcohol upon fermentation. Now, as far as the term “Organic” is concerned, there are different definitions or standards for it. As per the USDA and NOP definitions, an “Organic Food” is the food grown by using renewable resources and is aimed towards the conservation of natural resources. Other agencies may have different definitions for it. But in general, “Organic Wine” it means the wine that is made from the grapes or other fruits grown by using only natural and not artificial or synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides etc.; processed without the involvement of any kind of artificial or synthetic chemical agents and no artificial or synthetic chemical preservatives, colours or taste-makers or reagents were used in its preservation or storage. Further, there are set standards about it, given as follows;
Absolutely or 100% Organic Wine: It means the wine is made only from the hundred percent organically grown grapes or fruits and no synthetic chemicals were used in it at any subsequent stage of processing or storage.
Organic Wine: It means that ninety five percent of the raw materials (grapes or other fruits) used in its preparation should be organic. It may contain up to a certain extent (measured in ppm) of chemicals, such as sulphites or sulphur dioxide in it.
Wine made from organic grapes (or any other fruit): In this case, at least 70% of the raw materials used in its preparation should be certified as organic. It may also contain permissible limits of sulphites.
The standards discussed above may be different in different countries and, in some regions there may be no standard at all. Before a wine can be sold with any of the above three tags on it, it needs to be duly certified by a certifying authority. There are different certifying agencies like ECOCERT, BIOFRANC, Nature et Progres, Terre et Vie etc. operating in different continents and having their branches in different nations.
Impact on Market: Unlike other organic foods who overnight took the markets by storm, Organic Wine is gaining popularity slowly but steadily. This thing is not popular yet. The reasons are many. The majority of people do no at all know about it. Those who know, they do not seem to care. Those who care, often step back due to its lack of availability, high price & low shelf life. That leaves a very few who know, care, avail and finally drink and appreciate this thing. So, the market of Organic Wine is just budding and it does not have a noticeable impact on market. Again this market differs in different regions. In regions with more percentage of well-educated and health aware population, the demand is pretty well in comparison to those places where this percentage is less. The reasons are obvious. So, this demand is more in developed countries and in cosmopolitan cities rather than in developing countries or rural or sub-urban places.
Producers: The countries, who are the chief producers of normal wine, are the chief producers of Organic Wine as well. They include Italy, France, Spain, USA, Argentina, China, Australia, Germany, and South Africa, Chile etc., with France topping the list followed by Italy & Spain at the second & third place respectively. This is because they have the required infrastructure and expertise in producing wines.
Benefits of Organic Wine: The benefits of Organic Wine can be classified as under;
Health Benefits: Although there is a big controversy over this issue and there are many who say that there are no health benefits of any alcoholic drink whatsoever. Still, let us be on the other side and listen to what they say. Apart from the general health benefits of wine, which include regulation of blood pressure, maintaining good cardiac health, better metabolism, providing warmth and boosting of immunity, the added benefit of consuming organic wine is that you keep safe from the harmful chemicals. Although this will not show any miraculous effects and will not make any difference, since almost everything else we consume is full of such harmful chemicals, still, this is at least what you can do from your side. People who are allergic to Sulphur or its compounds may find Organic Wine fit for consumption, provided that it is hundred percent organic and nothing less than that.
Other Benefits: The other benefits of Organic Wine include mainly the Environmental Benefits. Since no harmful chemicals are used in the production of Organic Wines (and even if they are used, they are used to a very little extent) throughout, hence its production does not (Even if it does, it is negligible!) pollute the air, the water & the soil and does not have any adverse effects on environment. The Organic Wines are mostly packed in environment friendly organic containers.
Drawbacks of Organic Wine:
The main drawback is with the preservation and stabilization. If absolutely no chemical preservatives or sulphites are used in it, then it is going to have a very short shelf life (of a few weeks only) and is not going to be stable. Wines, being costly, cannot be allowed to spoil within such a short period and hence most of the producers (and even consumers) advocate use of a little preservatives and sulphites in it.
Another major drawback is its price. The wine with an “Organic” label on them is far costlier than its “Non-Organic” counterpart. But then, anyone who can afford a good brand of old wine can bear this difference too.
Your Call! If you go through the labels on the wine bottles carefully and read the certificates, you will find that almost none of the wine available out there in the market is hundred percent organic. They may just have the tag “Organic” or “Made from Organic Grapes”. In both cases, they bound to contain some chemical preservatives or sulphites. So, if you have problem with sulphur, keep a distance from them. This is another reason why many are of the belief that there is no purely organic wine at all. So, be wise before you put your hand into your pocket and go for a bigger brand. Why spoil the fun when few bucks more can assure that it is really organic, more so when you are really serious about it? The use of organic wines should be encouraged because they are environment friendly.
So, that’s that! Enough pegs for today. See you again!
1. Journals on Health & Medicines published on News Papers.
2. Various reports on Television & other media.
3. About.com: Organic Wine: http://wine.about.com/od/vineyardvocab/g/organicwines.htm