Moderate wine consumption – one or two glasses per day – has been linked to several health benefits. In addition to lowering bad cholesterol and reducing your risk of heart disease, wine is also rich in antioxidants and may impede the progression of degenerative neurological disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
Organic wines take the benefits a few steps further, beginning with the environment. To be labeled as organic, a wine must be made from grapes grown on a certified organic farm. Though grapes are one of the world's most pesticide-laden fruits, organic grapes are grown without the use of herbicides, insecticides or fungicides. This practice not only benefits you, the consumer, but also prevents farm runoff and ground contamination.
Furthermore, because organic grape farming is more labor-intensive and suited to small businesses, your purchase often supports family-run companies and local cooperatives. Biodynamic agriculture, and specifically biodynamic viticulture (grape farming), is a farming process that incorporates the ecological, energetic and spiritual qualities in nature. This type of farming strives to achieve balance and integration between crops and livestock, soil maintenance and nutrients, to produce a strong, healthy harvest. Due to increased demand and advances in integrated farming practices, biodynamic viticulture today goes hand-in-hand with organic grape farming.
Another major benefit to organic wines is that they have no added sulfites. Traditional wine makers add sulfites to prevent oxidation and reduce bacterial spoilage, but these compounds are also partly to blame for the morning-after headaches that traditional wine can cause. Though natural sulfites are produced during the fermentation process, organic wine boasts just 1/10 the amount as its non-organic counterpart.
Organic grape crops also produce higher levels of antioxidants and other nutrients, including iron, vitamin C, phosphorus and magnesium. They also have fewer nitrates than non-organic grapes. Due to high nutrient levels and a reduction in sulfites and other non-organic additives common to traditional wines, organic varieties promise a flavorful bouquet that many connoisseurs consider to be a complex and more traditional flavor profile. Organic wines taste like those made hundreds of years ago, and therefore help protect each variety's cultural and regional heritage.
As organic farming advances, more and more organic wines hit the shelves of your local wine stores and online vendors. Take your purchasing power to the next level by buying your favorite vintage packaged in an eco-friendly bottle. Plastic, or PET bottles are lighter and easier to recycle, and are more environmentally friendly to produce – just make sure to drink the wine within 12 months of purchase, as plastic is more oxygen permeable than glass. For a glass alternative, pick up a bottle labeled as "eco glass," a lighter, thinner material that requires fewer resources to produce and transport.