We are so careful about the foods we eat and products we use. I’ve become someone who reads the labels and ingredients on every thing that I eat and drink. Except for wine, that is. When it comes to wine, we just swirl, taste and drink. That’s because we assume wine is just grapes. At least that’s what I always assumed. Unfortunately, in the US wine makers are not required to list the ingredients on the back of bottles so we really have no idea what we’re consuming. I was shocked when I learned about what could be lurking in some wine bottles (yes, even the nice expensive ones), so I figured I would share what I’ve learned so we can enjoy wine that has our wellbeing in mind. Wine lovers, I swear I’m not trying to ruin your life. There is still some safe wine out there! Read below for more important wine info.
-Not all wine is vegan. Why on earth would there be any animal products in wine? Winemakers use things like Casein (milk protein), egg whites, gelatin (derived from animal skin, ligaments, tendons and bones), and isinglass (protein from a fish’s bladder) to make wines have less sediment so that it is more appealing to consumers. Vegan wine either doesn’t do this at all, or uses animal free agents like activated charcoal and bentonite clay in this process.
-Most wine is not organic. For wine to be organic, it must come from organic grapes that are grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, etc. If the wine you are drinking is not organic, you will end up drinking these harmful compounds.
-Wine-makers add sulfer dioxide (sulfites) to wine as a preservative and antibacterial to extend the shelf life of their bottles. Wine with added sulfites is not considered organic. However, sulfite-free wine isn’t necessarily the answer. All wine has naturally ocurring sulfites that form on the skin of the grapes during the fermentation process. The naturally occuring sulfites are safe for most people unless they are specifically allergic to sulfites, which most people are not. It is only when extra sulfer dioxide is added to wine that it can reach a harmful level for the majority of people.
-Most wine is not produced sustainably. You want to look for wine that is biodynamic. Biodynamic wine is produced with sustainable farming, harvesting and bottling practices and actually improves the land rather than depleting it. This practice is not only better for the soil and the planet overall, but actually creates more complex tasting wines.
-The more expensive wine is not necessarily the better wine. Often with expensive wine, you are paying for the branding not the quality. On the other end, you can find quality organic, vegan, and biodynamic wine at very reasonable prices.
So if you love wine but you care about your personal health, animals, the wellbeing of our planet, or all of the above, you should be paying more attention to your wine!
I learned most of the information above while listening to “That’s so Retrograde”, one of my very favorite podcasts. If you’re not listening, you should be. They interviewed the founder of “The Organic Cellar”. The interview really taught me about how wine is normally produced versus how it should be made. I was so surprised and enlightened by what I learned and it really made me think about what kind of wine I will consume in the future. I’m so impressed by the passion, dedication, and transparency of The Organic Cellar when it comes to producing wine the right way.
So what’s a conscious wine lover to do???
If you are looking to buy organic, vegan and biodynamic wine, you can order it here https://www.theorganiccellar.com. If you are local to California, check out Vinovore in Los Angeles https://www.vino-vore.com for their selection of organic wines. Someone also recently told me about a company called Frey Vineyards http://www.freywine.com… but I haven’t personally tried their wine. You can also look for wine that is labeled organic, vegan, and biodynamic… but honestly I’ve found it surprisingly hard to find even at health food stores.
I wish you all the happiest and healthiest wine drinking! Cheers!