Picking out a bottle of wine is one of the simplest pleasures in life. But with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to make the right choice. Two buzzwords you’ve likely heard when it comes to wine are “natural” and “organic.” But, what do these terms really mean? At first glance, they might appear interchangeable. However, there are some key differences between the two that every wine lover should know. In this article, we’ll explore what makes natural wine and organic wine unique, and how to make an informed decision when selecting your next bottle. natural wine vs organic wine
What is Natural Wine?
Natural wine is wine that is produced with minimal intervention in the vineyard and cellar. This means that the winemaker uses as few additives and processing techniques as possible, and instead allows the grapes to naturally ferment with wild yeast. Natural wine is often unfiltered and may contain low levels of sulfites, a preservative commonly used in wine production. natural wine vs organic wine
To be considered natural wine, the grapes must be grown using biodynamic or organic farming practices. This means that no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers are used in the vineyard, and the grapes are grown in harmony with the surrounding ecosystem.
What is Organic Wine?
Organic wine, on the other hand, is produced using grapes that have been grown without the use of synthetic chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers. To be certified organic, the grapes must be grown according to strict regulations set forth by organizations such as the USDA and the EU. Organic wine can contain sulfites, but the levels are limited and must be clearly labeled on the bottle.
But What About Wine Made with Organic Grapes?
But what about wine that is labeled “made with organic grapes?” There’s actually a big difference between that and organic wine. Wines labeled as “made with organic grapes” must have 100% of their grapes certified organic. Yeast and other agricultural ingredients don’t need to be organic, but they must be produced without prohibited methods like genetic engineering. Non-agricultural ingredients are only allowed if they’re specifically permitted on the National List. However, wines carrying the “made with organic grapes” label can still contain sulfites, up to 100 parts per million.
The Main Difference: Production Methods
One of the main differences between natural wine and organic wine is the production methods used in the winemaking process. Natural wine is produced using minimal intervention, which means that the winemaker allows the grapes to ferment with wild yeast and uses as few additives as possible. The result is a wine that is unique to the specific region and vintage, with a taste that reflects the natural qualities of the grapes. This is why natural wine may be more “foggy” than conventional wine, but we find that it makes it unique!
Organic wine, on the other hand, can be produced using a variety of methods, as long as synthetic chemicals are not used in the vineyard. While organic wine may be produced with minimal intervention, it is not a requirement for certification.
Organic wine regulations permit the use of additives including yeast, winemaking aids, like fining agents. Processes like sterile filtration and pasteurization is also allowed, which is not be allowed at all in natural winemaking.
Use of Sulfites
Natural wine is produced with no sulfites at all. This is because the winemaker relies on natural fermentation to preserve the wine, rather than adding sulfites as a preservative. However, it’s important to note that not all natural wine is sulfite-free, and some natural winemakers do choose to add sulfites to their wine.
Organic wine is also produced without sulfites, and naturally-occurring levels are limited and must be clearly labeled on the bottle. The maximum amount of sulfites allowed in organic wine is 10 parts per million (ppm).
Wine made with organic grapes, on the other hand, can have a limited volume of added sulfites, up to 100 ppm. All of these options are significantly lower than the maximum amount allowed in conventional wine, which is 350 ppm.
Taste and Aroma Differences
Because natural wine is produced with minimal intervention and wild yeast, it can have a unique taste and aroma profile that is specific to the region and vintage. Natural wine can have a cloudy appearance and a funkier taste than conventional wine, which some people find off-putting. However, for others, the complex and varied taste of natural wine is part of its appeal.
Organic wine, on the other hand, may have a more consistent taste profile, as the grapes are grown according to specific regulations and may be produced using conventional winemaking techniques. However, many organic winemakers also choose to produce wine with minimal intervention, which can result in a more unique and varied taste profile as well. It all depends on the grower!
Making an Informed Decision
When it comes to choosing between natural wine and organic wine, there is no right or wrong answer. It all comes down to personal preference and values. If you value minimal intervention and eco-friendliness, natural wine may be the right choice for you. If you want to support environmentally-friendly farming practices but prefer a more consistent taste profile, organic wine may be the way to go.
It’s also important to remember that not all natural wine is created equal, and some winemakers may use the term “natural” loosely. Additionally, don’t be fooled by the “made with organic grapes” label. Do your research and look for winemakers who are transparent about their production methods.
Ultimately, whether you choose natural wine or organic wine, the most important thing is to make an informed decision based on your personal values and preferences. With so many great options out there, you’re sure to find a bottle of wine that you’ll love. Cheers!
natural wine vs organic wine
- USDA Organic Regulations. (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2023, from https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic
- What is Natural Wine? (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2023, from https://www.wine.com/content/learn/wine-101/types-of-wine/natural-wine
- Wine sulfites: What you need to know. (2021, August 10). Retrieved April 24, 2023, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/wine/art-20048281