With the holidays just around the corner, many people are opting to purchase wine for get-togethers with family and friends. While the holidays generally imply great food and drink, it’s a great time to consider what your organic options are and wine is a good place to start. Whether you’re looking for white or red, expensive or cheap, dessert or dinner wine, there are numerous things you should know when looking for the perfect organic selection.
First you need to consider the USDA Certified Organic label. This is your best bet at finding a good organic wine. The USDA has numerous guidelines that a wine must meet in order to be considered organic enough to warrant the organic label, specifically being completely devoid of sulfur dioxide (or “sulfites” as most wine bottles have it listed). There are pros and cons of sulfites in wine and a wine can only be considered organic if they don’t have sulfites in them. Sulfites are a wine preservative and allow wines to have a much longer shelf life. If you choose an organic wine you need to be cautious about it. If you’re buying wine you’ll need to consider how soon you’ll be drinking it. Buying organic wine for an event or gathering that’s a few weeks away is probably a good idea and you’ll be fine without any preservatives.
However, you probably should skip organic wine if you’re hoping to save it for more than few months. You should also skip organic wine if you don’t plan on finishing the entire bottle and want to store it for drinking later. Over all, sulfite-free wine only lasts about 18 months-which includes time spent at the winery, in transport, and on the store shelf. Since sulfites are preservatives they help prevent oxygen damage (which is good for uncorked wine) and prevent bacteria from growing in the wine too. This type of preservative doesn’t have a huge impact on human health, despite what organic advocates may say. The major issue with sulfites is that some people are allergic and this preservative can induce a variety of different reactions, including intense headaches.
Finally, the most important thing to know about organic wine is whether or not the wine is organic or it was just made from organic grapes. Usually the bottle will mention which of the two it is, but you should certainly check with the winery. Also, it’s extremely rare that organic wines are completely, 100% sulfite-free. Like every other contaminant or chemical, there are limits and rarely is the limit zero. With sulfites, organic wines can’t have any more than 10 parts per million. So just make note of this, especially since organic wines can be much more expensive and the difference may not be worth the higher price.