Organic vs non organic wines
July 5, 2009
First of all, a good wine is a good wine independently. Organic does not make a good wine, a skilled winemaker and healthy grapes are still needed. I recently saw on TV the result of a survey about the attitude toward organic food in this credit crunch and their sales were down, apparently, due to the fact that consumers do not really understand what organic means and because these products are often thought to attach a premium.
So, what are organic wines and food then? Organic wines and food are food or wines made using organic grown ingredients. What does it mean? It means that the wine grower or the farmer cannot use chemical or non natural products in the field or vineyard, respecting the environment and not exploiting it. Not only, at least according to the Italian legislation, the organic certification can only be given if the farm or vineyards does not border with other conventional cultivated fields because chemical products can spread by air or soil and therefore contaminate the organic field and to avoid this, enough space should be in between. These are the main differences, others include lower yield per hectare and for the wine, less sulphites added.
Do they carry a premium? Yes and not. Yes, when the producer is a big one, in fact when we buy them from the supermarkets, we do pay a premium. It is easily imaginable the extra cost and risk for a mass producer in going organic and this is incorporated in the price. Not in the case of small producers. Why? Because they do not have the huge fixed costs that big producers have and they already follow good practices, keeping their yield low, adding little sulphites to the wines and using only the best grapes or ingredients through a careful selection.
So, concluding, organic on the label does not say anything about the quality of the wine or the food, it only means how the grapes or ingredients are farmed, and it is all down to the wine maker or farmer to make a good wine or food out of them.
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