Natural Products Expo West 2006 - Can Organic Wine Have Sulfites?

[This is part 4 of a series of guest posts by Siel from Green LA Girl. For more, see part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 & part 6. -Ed.] There's certified organic wine, and wine made with certified organic grapes. The difference? The latter contains added sulfites, the former does not. Adding sulfites, a preservative, automatically makes a wine ineligible for organic certification.

Why add sulfites? Sulfites have long been used as a preservative in wine. Many winemakers say that it's difficult to near impossible to bring out the flavours derived through aging that people are used to getting in their wines. Some will go so far as to say sulfite-free wines suck.Of course, others, such as Frey Vineyards, an organic, biodynamic, no sulfites added winery in Mendocino, claim that too much sulfites can have the effect of "masking delicate flavors, assaulting the nose." Both Frey and La Rocca Vineyards, another no sulfites added winery, were pouring generous drinks at the organic and wine tasting at the Natural Products Expo West.

Is sulfite-free wine yummier or less yummy than "regular" wine? Most of us just don't have a palate refined enough to make that sort of blanket statement. Scientific research seems to show that, except for people with sulfite sensitivities, the amount of sulfites added to wines is not going to have any detrimental effects. After all, sulfites are naturally occuring -- Even no-sulfites-added wine often contain a little bit of natural sulfites.

Most of the wines representin' at the Expo were made with organic grapes, but added sulfites. Some of these were Casa Barranca, Coturri Winery, Girasole Vineyards, Hallcrest Vineyards, Nevada County Wine Guild (pictured) and organic wines imported by Organic Vintners from all over the world.

All we know is, all the wines tasted pretty good to us. Of course, everyone was pouring rather generous servings, and after a long day of walking all over the expo, we gulped more than sipped...

And you can learn more about organic and biodynamic wines on Treehugger TV!

[A hundred "thanks" to Siel from Green LA Girl!]