By Cora Hilts
Originally from the Maine countryside, Cora spent five years in Paris and New York City intermittently working in luxury fashion and studying Politics before ending up in London.
Is Organic Really Better For Us When It Comes To Wine?
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to drink as much wine as you ever wanted without having to suffer any of the consequences? We think so. Not only that, we have also been intrigued by the rise in the number of restaurants, wine bars and foodie establishments that seem to have taken up the cause for natural and organic wines.
Unsure of what that even meant at first, we couldn’t help but wonder whether or not this was a fad-based trend, destined to peter out after too much hype, or if in fact there was something in the concept. If in buying into it, we might actually be making a better environmental choice as a consumer? We set forth in a bid to debunk the myths surrounding the possibility of a hangover-free wine (YES!), and to better understand exactly what it is that makes a wine natural or organic in the first place.
Grapes from Conventional Wine Can Be Grown Using Herbicides and Pesticides, And Some of The Other Substances Can Include Quite a Number of Animal Bi-Products, Including Those from Cattle and Fish
As a starting point, we had to ask what went into a normal bottle of wine that would prohibit it from being classified as organic or natural in the first place. Some of the ingredients came as quite a surprise. Apart from the fact that the grapes are quite often grown with herbicides and pesticides, some of the other possible ingredients can include quite a number of animal bi-products, including those from cattle and fish. Perhaps not quite the ingredients you would expect to find in a bottle of wine. In conventional bottles of wine additives are also used, in order to preserve the liquid’s shelf-life, flavours and even to control and increase the alcohol content in the wine itself. Conventional winemakers claim that the amounts used in their wines are too small to cause any lasting negative effects so it’s not necessarily that they are bad for you, however it definitely doesn’t sound quite so appealing as you dig a little deeper.
Organic wine typically contains only half the maximum legal limit of sulphur dioxide, a common preservative in wine that is used to inhibit or kill unwanted yeasts and bacteria. This is also the substance that constitutes the main culprit for sore heads the morning after. In theory then, we suppose that organic wine should help prevent such horrid hangovers, however what else differentiates natural and organic wines from more mainstream and mass-produced ones?
The Benefits Of Natural Wine Are Not Only Environmental, But In Many Cases Can Also Help Boost Smaller Scale And More Localized Businesses
The main difference between your average supermarket wine and an organic wine is that the organic wine is typically made from grapes that have been grown without the use of artificial or synthetic chemicals. There is also a beneficial environmental impact created from natural wine production. To keep the weeds and bugs at bay for example, organic farmers work with nature, rather than against it. They boost their vineyard’s biodiversity in the process. They might introduce cover crops to provide a habitat for beneficial insects, or have small sheep graze between the vine rows, eating the grass and weeds. This helps to create a vineyard which is a self-regulating, natural ecosystem, and one that is able to combat problems through its own cultivation system and it in turn eliminates the need for artificial, and potentially toxic, chemicals to be used in the production of wine. This helps create a much more dynamic environment the wines are grown in as well, and helps promote things like an increase in the number of species found in the area and more nutrient-rich soil for example.
The benefits are not only environmental, but can also help boost smaller scale and more localized businesses. In supporting natural and organic wine producers you can also feel good about supporting more independent, artisanal and boutiques wine makers, helping to give back to the local economy at the same time. As a result you also tend to get a more interesting and diverse product that tastes more unique at the same time.
Whilst we can’t (regrettably) wave magic wands and lay claim to having been able to rid you of the dreaded hangover, we have found these places that serve up interesting wine to buy or try in-house, and they will go some way towards helping you avoid the worst of them, whilst being able to say that you are reaping and supporting all of the benefits of natural wine production.
Our Favourite London Spots For Organic Wine
The Wine Butler: A new take on “boxed wine” delivered straight to your door every month. Be prepared to receive three of the finest independent, natural or organic wines that the founder finds on his travels each month for a monthly subscription.
Sager + Wilde: An East London based wine bar serving up some of the tastiest natural and organic wines, served by the glass or bottle, to be enjoyed over small plates or on their own as you prefer.
Bedales: Discover interesting wine-tasting evenings which feature natural and organic wines as front and center at this Borough Market establishment. Here you can expect to find events where you are able to sample unusual wines made in this manner that are then available for purchase directly after. It makes for a great and slightly different night out in London.