More and more people are sampling organic wines, which have come a long way in quality and acceptance. That's great for the planet, since grapes are among the most pesticide-laden produce.
So you can feel confident at a wine store or when dining out, here is a simple guide to what emerging vino labels mean:
100% Organic carries the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic seal (the certifying agency must be listed) and indicates the wine is made from 100% organically grown ingredients and has been monitored throughout its entire production process. This wine can contain only naturally occurring sulfites (or sulfur dioxide, an antimicrobial substance) in less than 100 parts per million (ppm).
Organic also carries the USDA organic seal and indicates the wine has 95% organically grown ingredients (the other 5% must not be available organically). Again the certifying agency must be listed and the wine has the same sulfite requirements as 100% organic.
Made with Organic Grapes or Made with Organic Ingredients means the wine contains at least 70% organic ingredients. It can have artificial sulfites added, but it may not contain more than 100 ppm. (It does not have the USDA organic seal.)
Biodynamic is based on the precise observation and an attempt at balance of nature, a concept originated by the early 20th-century Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. So, biodynamic wine is not only 100% organic, in addition, the grower has gone beyond to try to bring the farming process more closely in tune with nature. For instance, biodynamic wine growers may make their own compost and/or watch the stars and planets to time what they do.
The good news is that organic wines are becoming much more widely available. (There's even an organic wine of the month club!)
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