Mar 16 2010

Wines greener than the Chicago River

Published by at 5:56 PM under Uncategorized

So what if wine and St. Patty’s Day don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand? While we can argue the virtues of vino versus beer on this traditional holiday, let’s just skip all that and get to what’s important: “green” wines, and we’re not talking about just the grapes.

The term “green” has been bandied about in recent years as consumers (i.e you) focus on products that not only deliver quality and value but also give back to good ol’ Mother Nature. In the world of wine, “green” is a whole different beast entirely. Wines can be organic (different from what Whole Foods tells you), biodynamic or sustainably-grown. Here, then, is a green primer to help you navigate not only your local wine shop (Just Grapes, preferably) but also wine lists at restaurants.

Organic wines: Wine labels can be confusing as is, and only made more so by being labeled “organic.” For wines to be truly organic, they must not only be produced from organically grown grapes but must not contain added sulfites, the naturally-occuring antimicrobial preservatives found in most wines. “Made with organically grown grapes” is technically organic, but for purposes of preservation have added sulfites to their products.

Biodynamic: You have heard of organic products but what of biodynamic? Quite simply, “biodynamic” is primerib to organic’s flank steak. It’s a philosophical, spiritual and holistic approach to farming. Biodynamics consider farms (or in this case, vineyards) as self-contained systems which respond to nature’s rhythms. To that end, no synthetic products are used within these systems, much like organic farming. The differences between the two come down to the specific timing and application in biodynamics, which, as stated before, are more holistic.

Sustainable: Like organic and biodynamic viticulture, sustainable practices rely on returning organic material (stems, leaves, vine cutoffs) to the ground as well as reducing waste throughout the vineyard. It differs from the two previous methods in that any vineyard can be sustainable, whereas organic and biodynamic vineyards generally get certification from governing bodies.

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