The modern age of wine is upon us, and it has introduced to new methods of wine production. These three methods, focused on doing as little as possible to manipulate the growth and development of their wine grapes, include organic wine, biodynamic wine and natural wine. Now you might be saying to yourself, “those all sound the same”. But while they do sound similar in nature, there are differences in each method of wine growth and production!

 

What’s the difference between Organic Wine, Biodynamic Wine and Natural Wine?

 

What is Organic Wine?

What does “Organic Wine” mean?

Organic wine denotes the growth of wine grapes without the use of harmful chemicals, such as fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. And while you still may see a warning sign for sulfites on organic wines, that’s due to their natural formation during fermentation – there are no additional sulfites included from the grower.

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What does Organic Wine taste like?

Organic wine will likely taste the same as regular wine! The winemaker may use a higher quality grape to begin with, but flavour will depend on other factors within the winemaking process!

 

Is Organic Wine healthy?

In general, the grapes used to make organic wines are healthier on average than the grapes used on regular wine. They will provide a healthy dose of antioxidants and be free of trace amounts of chemicals such as pesticides or herbicides.

 

Is Organic Wine better than regular wine?

In general, you face a much lower risk of running into any nasty chemicals when you drink organic wine, which doesn’t farm with pesticides, fungicides, fertilizers, etc. Regular wines, which still involve chemical processes at their vineyards, leave a higher chance of trace chemicals contaminating their wines, while also adding sulfites to increase the lifespan of their products.

 

How do you know if a wine is organic?

the first thing to look for is a note on the label indicating that the grapes are grown organically and without pesticides. Additionally, depending on the country of origin, there should be a stamp of approval from a certifying committee to prove that your wine is organic (in the United States, the USDA logo will indicate a wine’s organic status).

 

What are the best Organic Wines?

They are a variety of organic wines on the market now, as people have become more aware of the wine they are drinking and want to ensure environmentally-friendly farming practices. A few popular organic wine brands include Badger Mountain, Paul Dolan Vineyards, Hecht & Bannier, Bonterra Vineyards, The Vegan Vine, Capela Santa Margarida, Parducci’s sustainable line and many more.

An Organic Wine We Love: Domaine Carneros Estate Pinot Noirorganic-redwine-pinotnoir-sustainable

Domaine Carneros is a Napa Valley-based winery that places a substantial focus on sustainable and organic winemaking practices. It’s Pinot Noir is one the vineyard’s most popular, and boasts darker berry and cherry flavours while finishing with an earthier, wood feel. A delicious wine that pairs great with rich meat dishes.

 

 

 

 

 

What is Biodynamic Wine?

What makes a wine “Biodynamic”?

Whereas organic wines are about what ISN’T done to the grapes, biodynamic wines are about what IS done to the grapes. Taking organic wine one slight step further, biodynamic wines involve the preparation of soil and environment allowing the grapes to grow as well as possible! Biodynamic winemaking takes into consideration the entire vineyard and growing environment as one ecological system, with each (non-chemical) process taking the overall grapes into consideration.

An interesting practice when going the biodynamic winemaking process if the planting of compost into cow horns before buried in the soil, which are later dug up and scattered throughout the vineyard. This method is focused on reusing farm waste and creating a cohesive, balanced ecosystem in the vineyard.

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What is the Difference Between Organic and Biodynamic Wine?

Biodynamic winemaking takes into consideration the health of the soil and the entire growing ecosystem, whereas organic winemaking is simply focused on not using any chemical compounds in the creation of their wines.

 


Are biodynamic wines organic?

They are, but the process is taken further by the level of care for the soil.


 

What is Biodynamic Viticulture? What Does it Mean to be Biodynamic?

Biodynamic agriculture is based upon the methodologies made famous by Rudolph Steiner, an Austrian philosopher.

Two practices make biodynamic farming different than organic farming. First, is the use of complex herbal concoctions and composts, often tied to spiritual reasons, which are called “preparations”. Second of which is the timing of production, which operates based on the movements of biodynamic spheres.

 

Do Biodynamic Wines Have Sulfites?

Sulfites are naturally occurring compounds that are created during the fermentation process of wine! While biodynamic winemakers do not add any additional sulphites into their wines, which is done to promote a longer shelf-life, there will be some present from the natural fermentation process.

Many people believe that sulphites in wine cause hangovers and headaches the next day, which isn’t true.

 


Are Wine Sulfites Bad For You?

For over 90 percent of the population, wine sulphites are not bad for you – if anything, they’re good! They can add an anti-microbial element to your wine. For the roughly five percent of people who are affected by the sulfites in wine, it will largely present itself as an allergic reaction – think sneezing, itchy/watery eyes, hives, etc.


 

What are the best Biodynamic Wines?

Biodynamic wines can be found around the world, as they’ll be officially certified as such on their labels, but there are a few favourites we’ve found. Brands such as Domaine Montirius, Marc Kreydenweiss, Yealnds, Cakebread Cellars or Reyneke Wines are popular biodynamic wines!

 

A Biodynamic Wine We Love: Cullen Wines Amber Winebiodynamicviticulture-naturalwine-organicgrapes

The Cullen family vineyard is a biodynamically farmed operation located in Australia and has been focused on providing quality, sustainable wines since 1971. Their amber wine is a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes and provides flavours of lemon, pear and honey. Pairs wonderfully with chicken dishes!

 

 

 

 

 

What is Natural Wine?

What Does Natural Wine Mean?

Natural wines are the least manipulated wines produced in the marketplace. That means between the growing season, production or cellaring of the wines, there is nothing added or manipulated. This includes no preservatives, unnatural chemicals, additional sulfites, yeast, or other common additives.

Generally, natural wines will be made from grapes that were hand-picked and de-stemmed, the juice from the grapes is hand-pressed and there are no additional substances included in their wine barrels – truly a natural process.

Tips for drinking Natural Wine

  • Allow the wine to decant for a few minutes, otherwise, the smell and taste can be a little “wilder” than what you’re used to
  • Once it’s open you’ll have to drink the bottle relatively quickly, as the wine won’t last as long due to the lack of sulfite additives

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Is Organic Wine the same as Natural Wine?

While natural wine is technically considered an organic wine, an organic wine wouldn’t necessarily be considered a natural wine. Organic wines don’t allow the use of chemical interventions, whereas natural wines don’t allow any interventions if possible!

What does Natural Wine taste like?

Natural wine, due to a lack of preservatives or other additives, can have a very “funky” flavour in comparison to other wines! The flavour profile of these wines is connected directly to the type of grapes grown, how long the fermentation process took and how the wines were stored.

 

What are the best Natural Wines?

For most brands of natural wines, it’s a matter of taste and preference. A few popular brands include Domaine de l’Octavin, La Villana, Julian Courtois or ruth Lewandowski!

 

A Natural Wine We Love: Domaine Meinklang 2017 Grüner Veltlinernaturalwine-domainemeinklang-gv-handpress

The Austria-based Domaine Meinklang features wines that are grown in sustainable fashion, this winery produces some of our favourite natural wines. Their 2017 Grüner Veltliner is hand pressed and aged in stainless steel (so oak does not permeate the wine) and boasts green apple flavours with a peppery finish.

 

 

 

 

 

What are the Key Differences Between Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wines?

 

There are a variety of recognizable factors between each of these winemaking styles, but the most identifiable traits are drawn from the level of intervention during the growing and production processes.

Organic and biodynamic wines are very similar, with the major difference being in biodynamic wines influencing soil vitality. Natural wines are there with no intervention beyond the picking and hand squeezing of grapes – the wine isn’t event fermented in oak barrels!

 

Does Organic Wine have less sulfites than Biodynamic or Natural Wine?

Since there are no additional sulfites added within any of these winemaking processes, it would depend on the conditions present during fermentation. How long it takes to ferment, what type of barrel the wine ferments in and other factors will contribute to the amount of sulfites in these wines. However, they will all be lower in sulfite content than your regular wine.

 

Is Organic Wine healthier for you than Biodynamic Wine or Natural Wine?

It would depend on your definition of “healthier”. By all standards, natural wine involves the least amount of intervention during the winemaking process and is, therefore, a fermented grape juice which has become alcoholic. None of the wines will feature drastic health benefits in comparison to others, however, due to the lack of chemical processes involved with each method of winemaking.

 

Can you make wine without sulfites?

Do all wines have sulfites?

Yes, all wine has sulfites to some degree. It is impossible to make a sulfite-free wine, due to the natural formation of sulphur dioxide during the fermentation process.

 


Using an analogy featuring chickens, GuildSomm has built a comparison of the three types of winemaking which goes something like this:

  1. Go to Whole Foods and buy the very best chicken they have. It will be corn-fed, free-range and it will taste great. This is organic wine.
  2. Search out a local butcher, the best you can find, and buy his most expensive chicken. It will be corn-fed, free-range, and coming from a small farm—the feet and head are still attached. It tastes fantastic. This is biodynamic wine.
  3. Raise your own chicken, kill it, pluck it and eviscerate it. Then spit-roast it on an open fire. If you have some chicken skills it will taste amazing. If not you risk salmonella, chewing on feathers and your friends thinking you are bonkers. But you won’t care and will still insist it’s the best chicken ever. This is natural wine.

 

Want to learn more about wine? Check these articles out!

Old World vs New World Wines – What’s the Difference?
Why You Need to Visit the Unique Oliver & Osoyoos Wine Region in British Columbia
Red Wine vs. White Wine — What’s The Difference?