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Organic Wine

If you've been grocery shopping lately, you most likely have noticed a "green" revolution of sorts taking place throughout your local store. Organic food, once only marketed to uber health-conscious individuals who bought eco-friendly food in small, independent health stores, is now widely available to the masses in even the largest national chains. While generally higher in price, everything from organic pasta sauce to bananas grown without pesticides can be picked up from your grocer. Even winemakers are jumping on the "organic bandwagon" and are selling wines that are made from organically grown grapes and are free of added sulfites. Organic wines are becoming a popular choice for oenophiles who are health-conscious or concerned about the negative affect of pesticides in our environment. But, labeling of organic wines can be confusing. Here's what you need to know before you buy a bottle of "green" wine.

There are several main benefits to selecting an organic wine over a non-organic variety. Many winemakers feel that the lack of added chemicals brings out more of the natural flavors of the grapes. The wines are often cleaner, more full-bodied, and representative of their growing region, not unlike how a home-grown tomato tastes much more intense than one that is store-bought. And for those who eat a diet of organic fruits and vegetables, it simply doesn't make sense to wash them down with a wine that contains pesticides.

The benefit of organic viticulture also has a positive effect on the environment. Organically-grown grapes are naturally more resistant to the insect Phylloxera that has been responsible for several epidemics that have destroyed large wine growing regions. As well, the lack of pesticides and fungicides helps support a cleaner, safer natural environment for both flora and fauna in areas surrounding the vineyards.

There are specific rules that govern organic products, including wine. In the United States, the strictest classification for wine is 100% organic. This signifies that 100% of a wine's ingredients are organic. Pesticides, fungicides and added preservatives cannot have been used. Wine in this category will have a USDA seal that certifies it as organic. Wine that is simply labeled "organic" can also have the USDA seal but can contain up to 5% non-organic ingredients. "Made with organically grown grapes" is another designation commonly found on labels, and this means that at least 70% of the grapes used to make the wine were organically grown. These wines can contain added preservatives and do not have the USDA seal. Other wine making countries such as France, Italy, and New Zealand have similar classifications for their organic wines.

While the desire to promote a clean environment and avoid pesticides are valid reasons to select an organic wine, choosing one because you believe that you are allergic to sulfites does not make good sense. Many people erroneously believe that sulfites cause them to acquire the notorious "wine headache." Because the preservative occurs naturally during the fermentation process of wine, even organic wines have small amounts of sulflging. It is important to note that wine that doesn't contain added sulfites has a much shorter shelf-life and is prone to spoilage.ites. Most experts agree that these headaches occur from a sensitivity to a wine's tannins and histamines or from simply overindu

Decades ago, organic wine had a poor reputation as being undrinkable and of poor quality. Because of improved technology and winegrowing techniques, these wines have been dramatically improved and are now winning awards and receiving high recommendations from wine experts. More and more winemakers are choosing to make organic wines, and the selection of varietals available has increased tremendously. With the popularity of organic foods continuing to increase at a rapid rate, these wines are a viable choice for those wanting a more natural and environmentally friendly alternative.