Organic and biodynamic wines are two fast growing segments in the wine world. These two different methods for growing and making wine can create very good, yet different end results. Which wine is better? Both camps have their strong feelings, and the best bet is for you to try both for yourself. But before you go out and buy organic and biodynamic wine, here’s a quick lesson about each one.
What is organic wine?
Organic wine is similar to organic food and is produced without the use of chemicals and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and ionizing radiation. Organic winemaking methods include using natural yeasts in lieu of cultured yeast and many avoid sulfites, which kill off wild yeasts. Sulfites can also cause a wide range of allergic reactions, including hives, headaches and asthma attacks. They are also known to trigger migraines in some people. However, not all organic wines are sulfite free, so if this is a concern, do make sure to read the label before you pour yourself a glass.
What is biodynamic wine?
Biodynamic wine is made in a way that is intended to be in harmony with the environment and with the processes of making wine. The methods used in biodynamic winemaking are designed to bring out flavors of grapes by mimicking natural cycles, and usually include an element of spirituality or ceremony.
Biodynamic wine was developed by a German scientist named Rudolf Steiner in 1924. The philosophy behind biodynamic harvesting and winemaking is based on the idea that what you put into your vines will come out in your wine, so it’s important to maintain healthy soil and feed your plants organically. Biodynamic farming also involves astrology and homeopathic remedies as part of its holistic approach to agriculture—and some biodynamic producers claim their wines exhibit unique flavors as a result of this method (we’ll get back to this later).
Biodynamic wines are more expensive than their conventional counterparts because they require more time, labor and resources to produce—and some people say they’re not worth it. Biodynamic wines are often said to have better flavor because they’re made with specific techniques that enhance the quality of grapes (or other fruits).
Organic versus biodynamic certification
The main difference between organic wine and biodynamic wine is the certification process. Organic certification requires only one year of conversion, while biodynamic certification is a three-year process that takes more time and money to complete. For example, if you grow grapes for biodynamic wines in an area where there are no other farms producing certified organic or biodynamic grapes, your initial costs will be significantly higher than those who can use their neighbors’ fruit for their first year of production (which helps keep prices down).
It’s also worth mentioning that you need more land to produce biodynamic wines because they require specific plantings like legumes and cover crops that don’t usually go into vineyards. Biodynamic farmers also have to follow strict rules about crop rotation—for example, they can’t grow corn one year and then again within five years—and this means less crops overall per acre compared with conventional farming methods.
How do you know if a wine is organic or biodynamic?
- Look for the seal: The easiest way to tell if a wine is organic or biodynamic is by looking for the USDA Organic or Demeter Biodynamic seal. These seals can be found on wine labels, but they’re also sometimes printed directly on the bottle, especially with smaller producers.
- Check out their website: If you don’t see any of these seals on a wine label, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not organic or biodynamic—it just means that you’re going to have to do some digging yourself! Many vineyards will mention their certification on their websites, so check there first before calling them up and asking about certification.
Organic and biodynamic wines are similar, but there are some differences to be aware of.
On the surface, organic and biodynamic wines might seem similar. Both are produced in a way that doesn’t use chemicals or pesticides. However, there are some key differences between the two that you should be aware of if you’re shopping for wine.
First, organic winemakers will often treat their crops with conventional chemicals to control pests and help the grapes grow more quickly. But since these treatments aren’t allowed by organic standards, they can’t be labeled as such—unless they’ve undergone a rigorous process to receive certification from a third-party agency (which is rare). As such, many people may think that an un-certified bottle of red wine is “better” than one that has been certified as organic but does not contain no added sulfites or other synthetic preservatives; however this isn’t necessarily true.
Biodynamic producers on the other hand do not use any additives at all—they only use natural ingredients like cow manure, for example. These practices result in higher costs which means biodynamic wines tend to be pricier than those made under normal conditions; however they also tend to have better quality because they undergo less processing before being bottled up into something delicious enough for us humans to drink out of our glasses instead!
Which wine should you drink?
That is completely up to you! My recommendation is to try both types of wine and see what you like best. Make sure to do your research first, so you know which wineries to be looking for the next time you are in the wine section of your grocery store or wine cellar.
Do you have a favorite organic or biodynamic wine? Let me know in the comments or through my contact form. I would love to give it a try.