Organic wine at its most basic level, is made from grapes that have been grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.

But when a label says “organic,” it means the wine has met certain standards that are set by a government agency. Different nations have their own certification criteria, so what’s organic in one country may not be in another. Another complication is that many wineries that are technically organic still choose not to be certified. There are many reasons for this, for instance I have heard of wineries that are almost wholelly organic, but decided against getting completely certified as it would prevent them from use of fertilizers and other products which maybe required in a particularlly challenging vintage. Others do not want the added costs and bureaucracy of registering. Others may disagree with their government’s standards. It can also be a marketing decision. Whatever the case, try asking a member of staff about these nearly but not quite organic wines.

Sulfites

Organic wines are not sulfite-free.

Let me repeat because many people have used sulfites as a bugbear to blame for many things to do with wine, mainly the RWH (see earlier post). The use of added sulfites is debated heavily within the organic winemaking community. Many vintners favor their use, in extremely small quantities, to help stabilize wines, while others frown on them completely. Also it must be noted that most wines, even wines without added sulfites contain sulfites.