Organic Wine: It’s Better Than You Think

When it comes to the topic of wines, particularly organic wines, separating myth from fact can be a daunting task. Much of the information available on organic wines is contradictory. While there is generally no argument that drinking wine made from organic grapes is better for you than drinking wine made from grapes laden with chemicals, there is quite a lot of controversy surrounding the topic of sulfites in organic wines.

According to the USDA’s definition of organic wine, an organic wine is simply a fermented beverage made from organically-grown grapes, to which no sulfur dioxide has been added. Sulphur in this form has been used in winemaking as far back as the Greco-Roman period for its anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties. While sulfites occur naturally at low levels during the winemaking process, as a by-product of the fermenting yeasts present on all grape skins, the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) guidelines state that even a wine made with 99.99% organic ingredients cannot be labeled “organic” unless no sulfur dioxide has been added to it. Therefore, as sulfites are naturally occurring, there is no such thing as a sulfite-free wine.

A small percentage of people experience sensitivity to sulfites, particularly asthmatics and people with severe allergies. For these people, having access to a low-sulfite alternative means that they can enjoy the pleasures of wine without experiencing the unpleasant drawbacks. But what the sulfite restriction on organic wine has translated into for the larger population of consumers is a vague and general notion that organic wines are inferior to non-organic wines.

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For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.