There is much debate on what is and isn't organic wine making. Many so-called experts have spoken out on the subject. So I have taken the time to see what the various sides had to say and will be sharing my findings with you.
The major topic of discussion is whether the addition of sulfites means the wine is still organic. On one side you have farmers who grow their grapes without any herbicides or pesticides, but will add sulfites to their wine. They deem their wine is completely organic. The other side argues that since sulfites are not a necessary ingredient to wine making, the finished wine is not organic because it has additives in it. Sulfites have been linked to causing sickness in humans. Particularly those with asthma tend to be susceptible to negative reactions caused by sulfites.
This has caused a debate on how organic wines are labeled in the US. In France and Italy sulfites can be added to the wine and the wine will still be deemed organic on the label, because the grapes were grown organically. However in the US, if sulfites are added the labeling will only say grown with organic grapes and the wine will not be deemed 100% organic. This has many winemakers causing a fuss in the US; saying that their wines are 99% organic, that sulfites occur naturally during the wine making process and that they do not see how their adding a bit more sulfites increases the harm to the consumer.
This has led people to believe that the strict labeling of wine in the US can have an adverse affect on organic wine making. The concern rises from the fact that, if the winemakers get their grapes grown without the use of any pesticides, which is the far more harmful ingredient, but still cannot get the organic labeling on their wines, there will be no more incentive to use organic grapes. In this case everyone will lose.
Still the organic winemakers who choose not to add sulfites say their process of making wine is more costly and time consuming. They also argue that, when a consumer purchases a product that is labeled organic; they have a belief that no chemicals were added in the process of making that product.
What sulfites actually do is make the wine making process much simpler. They virtually prevent the wine from spoiling and give the winemaker more control and consistency of the flavor. When the first official organic wines came out in the 90's the results were wines that were not as consistent or flavorful as their non-organic counterparts. Thus marking wine as organic seemed to mean a bad wine.
Even today you will not find too many people rushing to buy 100% organic wine. It still lacks consistency and many of the wines are just not that good. This is unfortunate for the winemakers who bring us 100% organic products and who have, despite the controversy, stuck to their organic wine making process.
About the author: Alexa Aren is a winemaking enthusiast and author. She lives in Montreal and spends her time teaching others how to grow their own grapes and make amazing wine. For more great information on
"organic wine making " and making your own wine visit
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