Organic wine? It may be unfamiliar here, but the French have been drinking it for years. And though it's been slow to catch on in the US, recent scares about pesticides in fruit (such as cyanide-tainted Chilean grapes) and additives like sulfites (used in wine production) are pushing organic wines, as well as the whole organic food industry, into the mainstream spotlight.
Organic Wine Has The Same Perks As Regular Wine...
Wine drinking in general may help keep you in better health. Canadian researchers report heart disease levels are lowest in countries where most of the alcohol consumed is wine.
Other studies show that moderate drinking, the equivalent of one or two glasses of wine a day (but no more, as heavier drinking has been implicated in breast cancer, liver disease and an impaired immune system), raises "good" HDL cholesterol, the protective kind of cholesterol.
But Has More Cancer Fighting Ingredients...
New insights into the link between wine and health have turned up yet another strong case for organics: cancer protection. In a recent study at the University of California, Berkeley, microbiologist Terrance Leighton, Ph.D., discovered that some red wines have high levels of quercetins, anticarcinogenic compounds found in the skins of red grapes.
Leighton Says that ingredients often added to red wines to clarify them cancel out quercetins, so wines made more naturally, such as additive- and pesticide-free organics labels, are likely to contain higher levels of these protective compounds.
For many people, organic wines are noted more for what they don't have rather than what they do. This is actually true for most of the organic industry.
The grapes are pesticide-free and grown in soil untreated with chemicals. As the EPA and other agencies begin to uncover all the issues that come with pesticides, people are growing increasingly wary about using them for any form of farming.
Also under fire from environmental groups are the pesticides used in grape-growing. Of particular concern is captan, which in February of this year was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from Some 42 Crops because it was shown to cause tumors in animals.
Less Preservatives And "Extras"...
Organic wines are also free of additives and preservatives, unlike those from traditional winemaking, where a slew of such substances are now a standard part of the process. Many of these substances aren't actually listed on wine bottles - but do have major side effects that may be problematic in large portions of the population.
While health concerns have focused on sulfites, known to trigger allergies in roughly 5 to 15 percent of the population, there are at least 80 more additives, including egg white and casein (a milk protein) which are used to clarify red wines.
While both egg whites and casein seem harmless enough, an estimated 250,000 Americans are allergic to eggs and about the same number to dairy foods. Consequently, they may wind up with headaches or upset stomachs after drinking certain wines.
Foremost is the carcinogenic chemical urethane. Although urethane itself is banned in pesticides, it can be formed through chemical reactions with additives like urea, which organic wines don't contain.
"And you have no way of knowing which wines are contaminated and which are urethane-free unless you send them to a lab for testing," says Bruce Silverglade, legal director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer activist group based in Washington, D.C.
As a result, organic wines will generally have lower rates of contamination - which in turn also lowers the risk of cancer. Considering that cancer rates are rising on a global level, it's easy to see why so many people are worried about this.
And Are Less Likely To Be GMO.
Genetically Modified Organisms, also known as GMO's, are very controversial in the food industry. A very large portion of crops currently grown in the US are from genetically modified seeds, and alarmingly, studies are showing that it's having an adverse affect on the population.
According to one study, GMOs have been linked to sudden spikes in allergy rates. Many studies also suggest that there's no way to know the long term damage that eating "frankenfoods" can have on a person. Ergo, it's often better to just avoid risking it.
They Also Have Better Levels Of Resveratrol...
Organic wines have been linked with higher levels of antioxidants like resveratrol. These antioxidants do a huge slew of different tasks for us, including preventing cancer caused by free radicals, improving our ability to regenerate, and even promote anti-aging.
So, while you can't always find the fountain of youth, you can at least enjoy a glass of wine without worrying about premature aging.
And They Taste Better.
Many people swear that organic wines taste better than standard wines because of the lack of pesticides and additives found in them. If you have a sensitive palate, this may be very true. However, you won't know until you give them a shot.