Do you know what's in your wine?
Updated: Dec 9, 2020
How much do you know about the wine you’re drinking? This common dinnertime companion is often something we don’t put much thought into beyond red or white. But there are actually many important components within the wine we are drinking that most of us usually forget to consider.
For example, where is the wine you’re drinking produced? Are pesticides or herbicides used in the growing process? Are there added sugars or chemical additives?
You should consider the wine you’re drinking with dinner to be just as important as the food on your plate. Drinking natural wine can have profound effects on your health and wellness, just like eating organic foods. Non-organic, conventionally produced wines have many detrimental ingredients and subsequent effects on your body and the planet. In the following blog, we will describe the differences in conventional and natural wines and why they are so important.
First, natural wine is wine in which nothing artificial or synthetic has been added. This means no lab-produced yeast, chemical additives, or sugars have been added to the wine. Shockingly, only 500 winemakers in the world are currently making natural wines. This is compared to the billion-dollar conventional wine industry, which is monopolized by three major companies that own 51% of all wine in the US. Conventional wine is tailored to fit the highly sweetened American pallet, adding lab-modified yeasts and other additives to make the wine taste sweeter and fruitier. Further, there are 76 additives that have been approved by the FDA for use in winemaking; with only 38 of them recognized as safe for ingestion. Wines also do not require a content label on the bottle; there is no way to really tell what is in your wine without sending a sample to a lab.
The main differences between natural and conventional wine will be described below:
Sulfite is often added to wine for its antioxidant properties. Sulfite aids the fermentation process as it is more toxic to bacteria and molds than yeast. While this sounds promising, added sulfites can actually worsen hangover effects.
Conventional Wine: High levels of sulfites are added to quickly rid the wine of bacteria and mold. But this may cause bad hangovers and ill reactions to the wine. Many find that even after only 1 glass of wine they don't feel that great the next day.
Natural Wine: Very low levels of sulfites, if any at all, are added to natural wines. Given that natural wines are typically made in smaller batches, there is less likelihood of mold or harmful bacteria in the wine. Without the added sulfites, natural wines are typically hangover free.
Filtration and Fining:
Filtration and fining are used to make the wine look clear. Filtration is the passing of wine through a sieve under pressure to remove yeast and bacteria. The process of fining is when a tiny amount of a substance is added to the wine to bind with the proteins and fall to the bottom of the barrel where the clear wine can be racked off.
Conventional Wine: Conventional wines are highly filtered and fined, giving them the clear and transparent look typically associated with wine. But the filtration can detract from the complexity and body of the wine.
Natural Wine: Many natural wines are unfiltered. This will leave the wine murky or with sediments at the bottom of the bottle. Sediment in red wines can indicate it is in good condition and aging well.
Yeast is used in wine for the fermentation process. Yeast converts sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide within the wine barrel.
Conventional Wine: Most conventional wines use GMO commercial yeast that has been modified in a lab to not only standardize production, but also tailor the wine to a sweeter flavor profile.
Natural Wine: Natural wines use natural yeast created organically during the winemaking process. Using natural occurring yeasts lengthens the time in takes to ferment the wine, but also makes the wine more authentic.
Enrichment refers to the addition of sugars during the wine making process.
Conventional Wine: Enrichment is common if the grapes are not ripe or sweet enough. Adding sugar will increase the alcohol content of the wine. Adding sugar to the wine also results in more sugar byproducts. A bottle of wine labeled as "dry" will have less than 10 grams per liter of residual sugar. While a wine labeled as "sweet" or "dessert" will have over 30 grams per liter.
Natural Wine: Sugars are not added in the natural wine making process and the actual sugar content is quite low.
Acidification and De-Acidification:
Acidification is applied when grapes are not acidic enough to make a stable wine. De-acidification is applied when grapes are too acidic to make a stable wine.
Conventional Wine: Acids are often added to control the balance and flavor of the wine.
Natural Wine: Natural wines embrace the true nature of the grapes and do not rely on the addition of acids to stabilize the wine.
Conventional Wine: Grapes are grown in mass vineyards using harmful pesticides and herbicides. And these chemicals subsequently end up in your wine. A 2018 study found that 10 major California wines contain glyphosate- an herbicide and carcinogen.
Natural Wine: Natural wines include organically grown grapes never touched by a pesticide or herbicide.
Don't be fooled with the work 'organic'. This only means that the grapes are pesticide free. Most of the mentioned additives are used during the processing of conventional organic wines.
Dr. J's Recommendation:
Every now and then, Dr. Johnson sits down to have a nice glass of red wine to destress after a long day. Dr. J's favorite red wines come from Dry Farm Wines.
Dry Farm Wines are not your typical Natural and organic wine producer; Dry Farm Wines Farms works with small farmers who grow their grapes organically. Dry Farm Wines also only use growers who dry farm- meaning they do not irrigate their vineyard, instead letting the vines find their natural water source. Dry farmed grapes are higher in reveratrol, a polyphenol found in the skin of red grapes that gives red wine its antioxidant properties in protecting against cancer and heart disease. Grapes that are produced via dry farming have the highest rates of reveratrol, giving the red wine it's beneficial component. Dry Farm Wines are all sugar free, no additives, natural yeast, and have lower levels of alcohol (meaning less sugar) and lower levels of sulfites (meaning less risk of a hangover).
Interested in trying authentic wines that are exceptionally interesting and compelling expressions of taste and pleasure? Dry Farm Wines offers many different options and gift boxes. The perfect gift for loved ones including yourself! Click here to shop!