U.S. sales of certified organic wine and those made with organic grapes hit $80 million last year, rising 28 percent since 2004, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA). Today, wine enthusiasts buy nearly twice as much organic wine as they did in 2003. The association says it expects organic wine sales to continue to grow.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, how about trying an organic wine in lieu of a non-organic one this year? “Why?” you may ask. Here’s my thinking: As we’ve read multiple times, and as posted in my blog of the “Dirty Dozen” list, grapes are high on the list of fruits and vegetables that get hit with the most pesticides. When you take a sip of that delicious non-organic wine, guess what you’re also ingesting? But guess what? There are some wonderful organic wines to choose from. Read on to find out more.
As we all read about labeling and certification, this is what I’ve learned and want to share in today’s post. Many European and South American vineyards have been farming and producing organic wines, with naturally occurring sulfites (less than 100 parts per million, or ppm) for generations. One of the wine experts at Argonaut Liquors, here in Denver, explained that those wine producers don’t have the same pests that we have here in the US. As a result, they don’t have to use the nasty chemicals and pesticides that are used on many domestic vineyards. The grapes are grown organically and produced without additional sulfites. When we’ve traveled to Europe and enjoyed the local wines, we have certainly noticed that we seem to be able to drink a bit more without getting the headaches we sometimes get with drinking a non-organic wine with the added sulfites.
So What Are Sulfites?
According to thekitchn.com (their cookbook is a James Beard winner!) “the term ‘sulfites’ is an inclusive term for sulfur dioxide (SO2). SO2 is a preservative and widely used in winemaking (and most food industries), because of its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. SO2 plays a very important role in preventing oxidization and maintaining a wine’s freshness.”
Are Sulfites Harmful?
The pros at thekitchn.com add, “consumption of sulfites is generally harmless, unless you suffer from severe asthma or do not have the particular enzymes necessary to break down sulfites in your body. There are people who have a genuine allergy to sulfites, and these allergies are often linked with asthma.” Reactions to sulphites in wine can include a quickened pulse, lung irritation, skin redness and rashes according to the Organic Consumers Organization. The FDA estimates that less than 1 percent of the U.S. population is sulfite-sensitive, so it is relatively rare but still, you or friends may have experienced sulfite sensitivity.
To read more about Sulfites and Sulfite myths at thekitchn.com click here: www.thekitchn.com/
Why Buy Organic Wine?
- Domestic wines with USDA Organic seal, offer grapes that are 100 percent organic and produced using an entirely different set of practices to maintain their vines. Some are using ladybugs to combat pests. This is certainly more expensive but you get a pesticide free grape! Wine grapes receive even higher levels of pesticides than table grapes.
- While farmworkers and their families, rural communities and children are on the “frontlines” of industrial agriculture, we all carry pesticides in our bodies. Pesticide exposure undermines public health by increasing risks of cancer, autoimmune disease (e.g. diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma), non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease and more. (Organic Wine Company)
- Like organic foods, one gets the pure, inherent flavors from an organic wine.
- Industrial agriculture uses 70% of the planet’s fresh water. According to EPA, U.S. agriculture contributes to nearly 75 percent of all water-quality problems in the nation’s rivers and streams.
- Industrial agriculture is the largest single threat to biodiversity, and 7 in 10 biologists believe that today’s biodiversity collapse poses an even greater threat to humanity than climate change. Bees, bats, amphibians and other beneficial species are dying off, and their declines are linked to pesticide exposure.
The above information was obtained from the Pesticide Action Network.
Okay, so on to the Organic Wine list I promised you! These are the wines that were recommended to me by the wine experts at Argonaut Liquors, here in Denver. I have tasted them and highly recommend them.
|2014 Our Daily Red
California Red Blend
Our tasting – Delicious!
Syrah blend grown in Mendoza
Our tasting – Definitely worth the price!
Spanish Peñalba López Vino Blanco
Our tasting – A smooth finish, especially with appetizers and vegetarian fare!
|Coturri Winery – Sonoma, California
The Founder’s Series Coturri Sonoma Valley Red Wine – $25.00
Our tasting – This is a particularly roboust, earthy wine. As seen on their label, this specific blend was selected to honor Harry “Red” Coturri, founder of H. Coturri and Sons, Ltd.
Last but not least I want to share a wonderful review about Coturri organic wines. I was so impressed with their site, and their commitment to producing organic wines and the fact that they are located in California.
Their story: Coturri winery is Sonoma-based and was founded in 1979 by Harry “Red” Coturri and his sons Tony and Phil. Red learned how to make wine during Prohibition and the Great Depression from his father Enrico, who immigrated to America from Farneta, Italy in 1901. Today, Tony is custodian of the wine made there and remains true to the traditional methods of his predecessors. Their commitment is to making fabulous wines with grapes that are never treated with pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides. They do not use SO2 (sulfur dioxide) at any point in the winemaking process. On their website, they also note that “no additions or manipulations of any kind are made.”
Not only are organic wines made differently, “they taste different too,” claims Tony Coturri. “Natural flavor used to be considered kind of funky. Now consumers are starting to understand it’s not funky; it’s earthy. You’re tasting a component of earthiness that all foods should have.”
To learn more visit their site at www.coturriwinery.com
They are also offering a special discount right now – 20 percent off a mixed case!
Note: Coturri wines are currently not available in Denver, but are distributed widely in New York and Boston. Online ordering is available where their wines are not available locally.
There’s an App for That!
If you’re a wine enthusiast and love technology here are three apps that provide solid information about Napa vineyards and wineries: Both are available for $9.99 each for Apple and Android phones and tablets.
- Organically Napa Wine Finder
- Organically Sonoma Wine Finder
- Organically Napa: A Tasting and Touring Guide
If you’re never tried an organic wine, I can personally recommend the health and palate benefits! On a quick note, I’ve been told that most organic wines should be purchased and consumed within a year of their production date. Tony Coturri is sending me a 1980 Cabernet to try. There goes the one-year theory! Many of us are purchasing organic turkeys for Thanksgiving. How about taking the next step and selecting an organic wine to go with your meal? And of course the white wines are perfect for my vegetarian friends! Remember, selecting your wine should be enjoyable too!
No “Whining” but Organic “Wining/Dining” This Holiday!
Organic Consumers Association-Paul Gleason
Organic Wine Company
The Guardian – Why you should be drinking organic wine and where to find it-Daniel Honan Feb 2015
TheKitchn.com –The Truth about Sulfites in Wine and the Myths of Red Wine Headaches
WineCountryGeographic.com – Wine apps
Wine Folly – Organic vs. Non-Organic Wine
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