We are so happy to receive calls, emails and social media messages from you guys with questions about organic wines. We shop for organic food (or try to as it is not always available) in our preferred supermarkets, we know that it is grown without pesticides and without harmful chemicals, but what are organic wines? Let's get down to the point here.
Just before we start, don't you think there is enough confusion with wine regions and labels, and now there are organic wines, biodynamic wines, natural, fairtrade and more types of wine. How not to get lost?
Organic Wine Club is on the mission to introduce you to delicious organic wines that will be healthier for your than conventional ones, so you can drink less but better wines. Let us quickly outline the most important points.
EU laws state that organic wine is made from grapes grown organically. Organic farming presumes that no harmful pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and chemical fertilisers are allowed to grow the grapes. Research has shown that grapes are amongst other fruit that store those harmful substances, hence it is increasingly beneficial for your health to drink wines made from organic grapes. It also generally means no artificial or synthetic preservatives were used, no colours added and no agents added to alter the taste. If you are wondering, organic also means nothing genetically modified.
There’s loads of restrictions when it comes to organic wine. So what’s permitted?
Organic wine permits naturally occurring substances: elemental sulphur and salt copper sulphate (Bordeaux mixture). Plant oils, seaweed, powders based on wild herbs do not enter vine’s sap or grape pulp and thus have no effect on the resulting wine. Organic farming focuses on the techniques that are focused on prevention rather than cure. Don't you think it is a way forward?
The main nutrient added to the soil is compost as it is an organic fertiliser. It allows slow release of soil minerals and nutrients by encouraging an array of living organisms, so in a nutshell it feeds the soil, not the plants.
It also means that vine roots penetrate deeper into the soil and thus said to make the wines taste more complex. Critics sometimes add that noticeable minerality of the wine is a sign of how well this wine expresses the soil and terroir.
On a note of our organic wines: some of our wines are not certified by the official bodies of each country or region. These wines are all certified by alternative bodies as the national bodies charge too much that it may financially wipe out the winery. We have checked out all of these alternative bodies, and the requirements will wither match the national bodies requirements, or the rules they have are stricter. If there is any wines in question, we will be happy to provide the documents we have from our stringent selection process.
Don’t be surprised, a product that is made of grapes can be unsuitable for vegetarians or vegans. Winemaking process involves filtration and fining step, which can be conducted using animal based products: animal gelatin, a fishy isinglass, egg whites or a milk based casein. There are other methods available for that - gravity-based or an inert clay ‘bentonite’ usage. The latter is not perfect either as it can strip your wine of its light and delicate flavours. Natural wines are usually produced without filtration or any sort of clarification.
Natural wines are the ones that are made without major intervention during the winemaking process. Natural wines are not necessarily made from organic grapes, and at the same time organic wines are mostly about the grapes and not what happens in the winery. The latter process is exactly how you should differ these two kinds of wines - organic is about the grape, natural is about what happens at the winery.
One major difference here is the addition of sulphites - natural wines have no added sulphites, just naturally occurring ones. Organic wines will have less sulphites than conventional wines, but winemakers can still use them in minimal quantities (up to 100mg/l). Read more about sulphite free wines in our dedicated guides on wines made with no added sulphites (or sulfites, as some people spell it).
Biodynamic is something different, yes! To tell you the story short, there was a guy Rudolf Steiner, who back in 1920s developed a concept for a holistic system of agriculture. It focuses on improving soil and plant health by using herbal and mineral composts. What is important that the interventions are made strictly during particular days, which are selected based on the movement and positioning of the moon and other planets. Some experts agree that this system is an origin of today’s organic farming. We have prepared a tasting report and a guide on biodynamic wines - head on to our News and Offers blog to learn more.
Sulphites (sulfites) or ‘preservatives 220’ are additives that are used during winemaking process as preservatives against unwanted bacteria, but also to hide some faults, prevent oxygen from entering the vats and, as a safety net, protect the winemaker from accidental flaws. It became quite a common practice, yet some decide to minimise the amount of sulphites they add or, as with natural wines, restrain from adding sulphites.
Some are not, but still some minor level of sulphites occurs naturally in the bottle even though the levels are very low – should be maintained below 10 ppm (parts per million). Wine made with grapes grown organically normally calls for sulphites no higher than 100 ppm, so if you see ‘organic’ sign on the label it doesn’t mean that there are no sulphites, just the fact that the levels are lower. The wine will be labeled as ‘no added sulphites’ if there are none, or less than 10 ppm.
What’s wrong about sulphites?
They are quite aggressive preservatives that can give that ‘morning after’ headache, allergic reaction or in some cases more severe symptoms like fast heartbeat, dizziness, stomach upset. It can be even life-threatening for people with asthma. Most organic wines contain lower levels of sulphites, so if there are levels indicated on the label just check that it is less than 45 mg / litre for your wine.
World Health Organisation recommends that only 0.7mg/l of sulphites (sulfites) should be consumed per 1 kg of weight per day. It means that an adult of 70kg weight, who bought natural wine that contains 30 mg/l naturally occurring sulphites, can have a few large glasses of wine (up to half bottle). Obviously, when conventional wines containing over 150 mg/l it means much more harm to your body.
All wines contain some amounts of naturally occurring sulphites, but in the no sulfites added wines these levels are very low - up to 20 mg/l. By law only the wines that contain less than 10 mg/l do not need include that information on the label. We have referenced all our organic wines and the ones that are listed as sulphite-free or no sulphite added have less than 20 mg/l of sulphites. People who suffer from intolerances (wine allergy, sulphite intolerance etc) start noticing the symptoms when concentration exceeds 45 mg/l only. That's why we at Organic Wine Club have decided to list wines tat are below 45 mg/l of sulphites. 1/3 of our wines contain absolutely no added sulphites, please choose Strictly no sulphites added cases to ensure the levels are below 10 mg/l.
Blind tests did not show any evidence to support or reject this. There is such a misconception that organic wines taste worse, because sometimes they can display some off-flavours or faults that normally would have been eliminated by sulphites.
Organic wines will not be much different from their conventional analogues, whereas natural wines could appear more cloudy, more rustic and tasting quite unusual – it all depends what you are in the mood for! If you explore these organic wines or even sulphite free wines that we've carefully selected for you, you are hopefully to discover many more interesting flavours
Common sense tells us that if organic wine contains less toxins (nasty man-made like pesticide residues and more), then it is better for you.
To go beyond your own health, you are also contributing to a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable environment.
We all know that red wine contains resveratrol, which is an antioxidant that protects against cancer, heart disease, is anti-ageing and may even extend your lifespan. You can imagine that pesticides can significantly decrease the potency of any antioxidant. In fact, the French government in 2012 officially released a statement that there is a link between pesticides and Parkinson’s disease in agricultural workers.
In addition to that research from the Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Southampton, University of Rome’s Clinical Nutrition, University of California at Davis and University of Newcastle showed that organic wines are richer in nutrients and antioxidants. Natural and sulphite free wines have generally lighter effect and better consumed by your liver.
There is an ongoing debate on wine, its benefits and harm, whether organic wines are better or not. Regardless of that, many people make a conscious decision to buy organic products not just to better nourish themselves, but also because they are being environmentally responsible. The choice is yours! Please note that you should be drinking responsibly, be it an organic wine or not, check drinkaware.co.uk for more facts and help.
Even though in theory organic wines are not more costly to produce than their non-organic versions, the fact that something can happen in the vineyard that cannot be remedied by using additives and preservatives, winemakers bear a greater risk of simply producing no acceptable wine that particular season. That is why organic wines can cost slightly more. Our wines are currently placed in mid-priced to premium segments - between £8.5 and £40. Buying cases of wine online is another way to save a bit more - explore our member benefits to save up to 25% RRP.
There is an extensive array of certification bodies - they exist in different EU countries, North America and beyond. EU’s approved organic logo is green with a white leaf and stars around it. Producers are required to conduct a conversion process of 3 years and then follow a rigorous process of adhering to organic rules and regulations. Certified producers can then display that logo on their wine bottles.
In the United Kingdom Soil Association regulates how the country complies with EU legislation, whereas Organic Food Federation looks after a production. In principle, each country has their own rules (generally speaking quite similar, but procedures could be a bit different), so it is interchangeable within EU and can bear a uniform organic logo.
Some producers follow the process but decide not to bother themselves with bureaucracy and paperwork, some decide that it is a bit costly for them as certification bodies also charge producers a fee to display a logo per bottle. That is why it can happen that the producer is organic but either is in the process of conversion or not certified by a regulator body.
We personally taste every organic wine we then decide whether to sell it or not. Our wine experts with Wines and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Diploma assess appearance, aromas and flavours of organic wines based on their viticultural and winemaking details and make a decision.
It is important to answer whether the wine is exciting. We’d rather have a soft drink than a glass of a disappointing wine.
All our wines are:
Even thought we take the greatest care to select the best organic wines, we cannot possibly rely just on our palate. We have plenty of experienced wine drinker and wine lovers as our customers so we offer wine tastings and collect feedback. Would you like to come over and have a chat with us about organic wine (or several)? Please do! We would be delighted to meet in person.
Here is a small preview of our exciting sulphite free wine cases:
We have some amazing news for all of you! As we've got the keys and started refurbishing our physical store, we also have finally started to officially sell our organic wines online!
After weeks and weeks of wine tasting we have finally got it - 120 (sharp!) organic wines that all went through our scrutiny and we can vouch / describe / explain each one of them to you.
During these wine tastings we have changed our approach a little bit. We have started with wine styles and aimed to represent different styles and flavour profiles well. However, it was a bit of a struggle sometimes to find a very good (or outstanding) organic wine in a particular category (we did struggled with sulphite-free wines!). That's why the change is here - we do not aim to represent countries or styles, we simply list the wines we want to drink ourselves that match different occasions. In this way we can guarantee a flavour satisfaction that will meet your expectations. How is that?
This is how our rough storage room looks like now. We have all these 120 wines in stock, ready to be snapped and enjoyed.
You probably wonder which countries at the end made it to our shortlist.. Well in a spirit of a wine sport (if there is such.. well at least we have Euro football and Olympics this year), we oblige!
Can you guess which country is on top of our list for organic wines?
Well, OK, it is not just one. For some strange coincidence (is it, though?), we have two winners: France and Spain, both at 33 positions in our initial organic wine stock list! Just go to our Wines tab and browse.
Third place.. not that obvious as it is not Italy! Meet our New World organic champions - Chile! Yes indeed, with 16 positions in our list they doing well. The wines are great, offer a lot of value (probably the most of under £10-er wines) and super-versatile.
Italy is fourth with 8 positions. Great variety of styles too, they are really starting to catch up on organic and natural arenas. We watch this space now.
Fourth and fifth places are divided between two absolutely different regions of the New World - Argentina and New Zealand, as they both have 6 positions here. From heavy-weights, dark wines and aromatics to lighter and fresher wines - these two regions are offering concentration and complexity - try for yourself!
It would be difficult to navigate in our storage room as we have countries represented with less than 5 positions. You can see this mess here. Gosh, please nobody moves anything otherwise I never find anything!
Moving on, with 4 positions each are wine trade allies (from Medieval times) - Portugal and your beloved United Kingdom! Whoop-whoop! What, you did not know UK had great wines and some of those are organic?! Shame on you!
We have a few rather typical Portuguese wines - rich reds and a very robust white from Lisbon, yet UK wines are to astonish you. Glorious rose wine from Surrey, good Pinot Noir, great quality sparkling and a mind-blowing white from Sussex. Prove us wrong! We have not tried such a complex and expressive white for a long time as Davenport Horsmonden Dry White 2015. It is not often you can say 'drink local, support UK, and drink organic'.
To conclude, Germany follows suit at 3 positions, Australia and USA both at 2 and finally Austria at just 1.
These are the wines that went through our taste test. Care to try some for yourself? Have a look at the whole list of organic wines here. Get even more value for money when buying a case - browse our pre-mixed red, white and mixed Introductory and Classic organic wine cases.
Welcome to Organic Wine Club. Here is our public commitment to our goals, company vision, wine mission and the most important values.
This is our Organic Wine Club Manifesto, so you will know why we've created this wine club, why we have decided to focus on organic wines and what is our wine mission and business values.
It is available to download as Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) document: Organic Wine Club Manifesto.
We have also created a short introductory video featuring our values - hope you enjoy! Visit us in-store or browse our organic wines online and let's have a chat. We would be delighted to discuss all things organic wine.
Here is a full transcript:
Organic Wine Club is UK’s first wine club solely dedicated to organic wines.
We have created this club to offer:
Organic lifestyle is not just an increasing trend, it is a way of life for many who look after themselves and care about the environment. Our wine club delivers on taste, value for money and health aspects of wine shopping. For us great organic wine is not a goal in itself, but is a perfect partner for your culinary delights, cooking adventures and social gatherings, so we want to introduce it to you after having tried ourselves.
It is indeed a sharing economy. We involve our Organic Wine Club members in distributor-led tastings. Shared feedback allows us to decide which wines to source.
Our Mission: Helping people to drink less but better wines!
We do not aim to represent all possible regions or styles, but to offer great tasting organic wines, which we will drink ourselves. That include different and unusual wines. We expertly handpick the best organic wines sourced from dozens of UK importers and distributors who work with small artisan organic wine producers.
Our Vision for the business: Helping customers to succeed in their happy and healthy lifestyle goals.
Our Promise: Provide delicious organic wines expertly handpicked for you to deliver variety of great flavours at a good price. Offer up to 25% organic wine discount for our wine club members.
Finally, a gentle reminder about organic wines. They are made of grapes grown organically, so no pesticides or other harmful chemicals are entering your body and meddling with your mind. Drinking a better wine, made with care and without a safety net of added chemicals, will contribute greatly to your well-being, both physical and mental.
Organic Wine Club Team is looking forward to seeing you in store, hearing from you over the phone or via email or live chat. Drink organic wine with us!
Hello to you all, organic wine lovers!
When we have started thinking about creating a club that is solely dedicated to organic wines, our intention was that our customers would never be bored with the different flavours to match various occasions, meals and social events.
We are launching our brick-and-mortar store in South-West London, borders of Surrey, in Worcester Park very soon, but to celebrate the launch of online wine club, we've decided to offer 80 cases of organic wine with a generous 25% discount off retail prices and more benefits on top.
With these cases we offer a taster - 6 bottles of what we've called 'everyday organic wines' for just £59.45, a wider selection - another 12 bottles case to introduce you to variety of different flavours for £127.81 and also 6 amazing organic wines that we think are one of the best in class for less than £100. Browse them, check out our additional offers and we will be delighted to welcome you as one of our first 80 members! You will also enjoy a priority access to all of our wine tasting events.
Thank you very much!