A new trend in the world of wine that seems to be gaining some traction is organic wines. Purported as healthier and better-tasting, these are wines that are made from grapes on which pesticides are never used. Proponents claim the flavor is better, you don’t get hangovers, and that they’re better for you
Naturally, this idea intrigues us at Vine Vera. We’re big fans of wine in general, so if there’s really a way to make wine that yields hangover-free, better-tasting, and healthier wine, we’ll be all for it. That said, these supposed benefits are attached to a very hefty price tag compared to their non-organic counterparts, and said benefits are mostly speculative, and far from proven. As such, Vine Vera decided to do some digging so we could share our thoughts on whether or not organic wine is really worth it.
Alleged Health Benefits
Pesticides are good for killing pests, but they’re not necessarily good for humans to consume, as you might imagine. While specifically formulated to kill insects and weeds, not people, they often contain neurotoxins, which can kill anything with a nervous system (and we humans definitely have one of those), but they rely on the fact that smaller, less neurologically complex creatures won’t need as much of them to kill. Add to that the fact that grapes are generally washed thoroughly before being made into wine, and pesticide use on grapes (or any other crop for that matter) is generally considered perfectly safe.
However, proponents of organic wine, and organic agriculture in general, believe that even tiny trace amounts of pesticide can remain and cause harm. That said, studies have shown that even when pesticide particles remain present in wine before fermentation, they’re gone after fermentation; presumably metabolized by the microbes that make fermentation happen. In other words, there is virtually no health benefit whatsoever from organic wine, because non-organic wine doesn’t actually retain pesticide particles in the final product, and even if it did, it’s unlikely they would cause actual harm at such low concentrations.
The other claim by organic wine enthusiasts is that it just tastes better. In theory this sounds wonderful, but the claims start to break down when people try to explain why, exactly, organic wine would really taste any better (especially when you consider the point we made above regarding studies showing no pesticide particles remaining in the final product with non-organic wine).
Further, seasoned wine experts have attempted many times to identify organic and non-organic wines in blind taste tests, and they’re generally unsuccessful, with overall success rates for blind tests being just about identical to random chance odds.
While it’s theoretically possible that new evidence will surface at some point that runs counter to the current body of knowledge and validates the claims about organic wine, it’s quite clear from everything we know now that there’s really no reason to believe organic wine is any better than non-organic wine regarding health benefits, taste, or really anything else. So next time you’re eyeing an organic and non-organic version of your favorite varietal, and you’re asking yourself if the organic one is worth the inflated price, Vine Vera suggests you just save some money and grab the non-organic.