Wine Writing Team on March 27, 2020 0 Comments In a world of constant conversations about climate change and sustainability, many wine lovers are paying more attention to the way wineries grow their grapes and produce their wine. Whether it’s for health reasons or a desire to live a greener lifestyle, it’s important to know the distinctions that make wine organic, the best storage options to keep its quality, and the sustainability practices of the winery. What makes wine organic? Organic practices and definitions differ by country, so for the purpose of this article, we’re referring to organic practices in the United States. When looking at a wine label, there are two important distinctions to pay attention to. Wines labeled as “made with organic grapes” and wines labeled as “organic.” The phrase “made with organic grapes” means that 100% of the grapes have to be certified organic, but any other ingredients in the wine don’t have to be. Sulfites may also be added to wines labeled this way. When wines are labeled and sold as “organic” it means that both the growing of the grapes and their conversion process to wine has met the requirements of the USDA organic certification and the requirements of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. As you can imagine, there’s a laundry list of requirements to meet. But basically, organic wine refers to how the grapes are grown, and the practices implemented by the vineyard manager. For example, any other agricultural ingredients added to the wine, like yeast, also have to be certified organic. The winemaking process must also exclude the use of herbicides and fungicides in the vineyards, and there are no added sulfites. How do I store organic wine? Generally, organic wine doesn’t age well because it doesn’t have added sulfites. Sulfites act as a preservative in wine, so if there are no added sulfites, then your wine may not last as long as wine that contains added sulfites. That being said, there are some organic wines out there that age just fine – it’s just a matter of trial and error! It’s still important to know where to store your organic wine and how long it will last. Instead of stocking your wine fridge or cellar, you’ll do better to follow these dos and don’ts of wine storage, paying extra attention to the tips below: Light — keep your wine in dark environments. Organic wine is more sensitive and even a little bit of light can cause the bottle to have a sour-flavor. Age — drink organic wine within a year of buying it. Once opened, be sure to recork it tightly and drink the bottle within 1-2 days. Temperature — store the organic wine at a temperature between about 55 to 65 degrees. To ensure that you’re storing the wine in a cool, constant temperature consider investing in a wine cooler. What sustainability practices should I look for? If you want to drink wine from a winery that uses sustainable practices the key phrases to look for on a wine label are “Made with Organically Grown Grapes” or simply the term “Organic.” Also, look for the following labels from third-party organizations and certification programs: Do some research and pay attention to the sustainability measures wineries have in place. Some things to consider include: The weight of the glass bottles used — lighter bottles have shown to help lessen the carbon footprint. Planting drought-resistant grape varieties — these require less water. Carbon neutral practices — such as building with recycled materials or using solar or wind power. Other ways you can be more sustainable in your wine drinking are by drinking locally to reduce the carbon emissions caused from shipping bottles thousands of miles, recycling your glass wine bottles, and drinking in large format – many restaurants and bars are getting on board with glasses of wine being poured on tap, saving glass from being transported and recycled while also preserving the wine for freshness.