Thinking about jumping on the organic wine bandwagon? You’re not alone. Although the definition of what’s considered “organic” varies by country, typically, it’s wine made with grapes that have been farmed without fertilizers, fungicides, pesticides and herbicides.
“Organic certification in the U.S. raises some concerns for many of us in the industry, largely because the only fungicide allowed for organic certified grapes contains copper,” says Anna Mansfield, Ph.D., assistant professor of enology at Cornell University. “In dry areas or dry years, when fungal issues are low, that's fine—but in wet years or wetter regions, this is a major concern. Copper is a toxin and hangs around in the soil for a long time, so spraying it repeatedly—or at all, really—is bad for the land, water sources, workers and consumers.”
So are organic wines a healthier choice? According to Dr. Ellison, not necessarily. “While organically produced wines are good for the planet, I know of no studies showing that they are better in terms of health,” he says. “All wines have alcohol and some polyphenols, so I doubt that there would be any differences between organic and other wines.”
The bottom line: If red wine isn’t your thing, there’s no need to make yourself sip it just for its health benefits. But if you love yourself some Syrah, there’s something to be said for having a guilt-free glass with dinner most nights. We’ll drink to that!
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