Organic Vs Non-Organic Wine

We’re living in the midst of a revolution — the organic revolution. 

Unfortunately for fans of the organic approach, the change is glacial in pace.

Indeed, organic food still only makes up about 5% of food sales in the US. Many veteran wine enthusiasts still haven’t tried a glass of organic wine, and some wine novices aren’t even aware such a thing exists.

We’ll uncover the differences between organic and non-organic wines and explore four reasons you might want to seek a glass of organic wine for your next wine night.

Men shoveling wine grapes

What Is Organic Wine?

Let’s start by defining terms. The meaning of “organic wine” differs slightly depending on where you reside. 

In the United States, the term refers to wines that undergo organic production with no sulfur dioxide added and organically grown grapes that are free of synthetic fertilizers or chemicals.

Does Organic Wine Have Sulfites?

In Europe and Canada, the term “organic” refers to wine made from sustainably grown organic grapes that still might contain added sulfites.

What Is Non-Organic Wine?

In contrast to organic wine, non-organic, conventional wines originate from grapes that have not explicitly been protected from man-made insecticides, pesticides, and fertilizers.

Yes, this clunky phrasing is necessary. Just because a wine is non-organic does not necessarily mean it has been exposed to man-made pesticides. In fact, a non-organic wine may contain fewer sulfites than a certified organic wine.

However, certainty is taken out of the equation. The average consumer browsing the wine aisle (or online catalog) can’t understand at a glance the different agricultural practices and standards that led to the bottling of that wine.

Why Would A Clean Wine Not Be Organic?

If a non-organic wine could be organic, why wouldn’t it be? As with many things, the answer lies in dollars and cents.

In most instances, organic certification takes a great deal of time and money. Unfortunately, wine producers bear the financial burden of attaining organic certification.

This means that many smaller-batch winemakers simply don’t view organic certification as cost-effective if margins are already thin, even if they could pass an examination with flying colors.

A person with red gloves holding wine grapes

What About Natural Wine?

This is where the terminology gets confusing.

While organic wine generally refers to wines that have achieved third-party certification, “natural wine” is a generally unregulated term referring to a wine made with relatively low levels of human intervention from the first planting to final bottling. It depends on naturally occurring yeasts that kickstart on their own during the winemaking process.

So, a natural wine might be organic, or it might not. The wishy-washy nature of the term means that many wine enthusiasts hoping for more accountability in their wine manufacturers seek out certified organic wines instead.

What Are Biodynamic Wines?

Similar to organic wines, wines labeled “biodynamic” can be produced from grapes grown in organic vineyards free of pesticides and chemicals. However, there is a pseudo-science side to this form of wine production.

Invented by philosopher Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s, biodynamic winemaking is a spiritual-ethical approach that views the vineyard as one self-sustaining system. It follows the natural farming cycle according to the astrological calendar. 

Why You Should Drink Organic Wine Infographic

Why You Should Drink Organic Wine

Now that we’ve covered the ins and outs of organic vs. non-organic wines, let’s explore four reasons why you might fall in love with your next glass of organic wine.

1. Clean Conscience

One of the biggest benefits of opting for an organic wine over a non-organic wine is the confidence you can feel with every sip. 

The production process of many non-organic wines leads to runoff, water contamination, or soil erosion due to short-term agricultural practices. When you’re worried about the environmental cost of the bottle, it’s more difficult to enjoy every glass.

In addition, some non-organic winemakers deliberately add grape juice back to the bottle after the fermentation process has been completed. This infuses sweetness into the wine but also adds a healthy serving of sulfites. 

The vast majority of organic winemakers are prohibited from adding natural juice back to the bottle after fermentation is complete. Not only does this result in a more pure wine sipping experience, but it also keeps calories and carb counts low.

2. Commitment To Sustainability

Nearly every product today claims to be sustainable in some form or another.

As an average consumer, it’s impossible to verify all these disparate claims of eco-friendly behavior. That’s why organic certification can be so valuable for the average consumer looking to practice more ethical purchases.

Many organic winemakers employ green practices of crop rotation, water conservation, animal grazing, and green manuring to keep their vineyards in prime growing conditions without the use of harmful chemicals.

These practices ensure short-term soil fertility and long-term vineyard health, making many organic agricultural practices a savvy business move for the winegrower with future growth in mind.

3. Rapidly Falling Prices

Today, sustainability is mainstream. Gone are the days of paying exorbitant prices for green products. 

For instance, in Macy’s organic wines selection alone, you can find over a dozen top-quality wines for less than $20 a bottle.

4. Potentially Superior Taste

In 2016, The Journal of Wine Economics surveyed expert wine ratings, discovering that organic wines scored, on average, about 4 points higher when compared to their non-organic counterparts.

Now, this may point to the idea that organic wines are superior to non-organic wines. 

Perhaps they can take on more subtle qualities from their home soil than non-organic wines. However, it may also be true that organic wines simply receive more hands-on attention and care than non-organic wines due to their more labor-intensive production process. At the moment, there’s no way to tell for sure. 

Hands holding grapes

Is Organic Wine Better for You?

Organic wine offers you the complex, mouthwatering flavor you crave, along with a bonus — peace of mind.

Through third-party certification and sustainable winemaking practices, you can ensure that each glass is fit not only for your palate but for the planet.

If you haven’t yet been bitten by the green bug, browse our growing collection of organic wines, including organic white wines like 2020 Roncalla Organic Pinot Grigio and organic red wines like 2020 Envol Organic Cabernet Sauvignon.

That said, don’t leave our non-organic wines out in the cold —  they deserve some love, too. Whether you love a French Malbec, an Italian Sangiovese, or a classic Californian Chard, we’ve got you covered.