We all love wine but wonder if it should be a part of our diet...so, here is what Meredith has to say about it:
When you are the type of person who attempts to be an educated consumer, the world of wine poses a challenging hurdle . The amount of history and information surrounding wine are extremely complex, with hundreds and thousands of different producers and grape varietals to choose from- growing regions, climates, the list goes on. I am not going to attempt to sort through this information in such a short article. What I am going to help you understand is a bit more easily defined- although still wrought with politics and controversy. I will
try to keep it as simple as possible.
Herein lies the problem. All wine is not created equally. When you are meticulously trying to put the cleanest foods in your body, you should also do so when choosing a wine. Grapes are an agricultural product that can be laden with pesticides, and farmed in a manner that is damaging to the environment. Fortunately many wineries are getting on board with the idea that how they manage their vineyard can
actually be a contribution to our ecosystem. Which is why supporting smaller producers is a great idea- it helps contribute to the diversification of wines instead of supporting mass produced equals.
The differences and the quirks in wines are what make them intriguing,
appealing and exciting - a good thing. A wine should represent the climate,
vineyard, and year it is grown in- making each bottle unique. When you
support environmentally friendly wine production, you come closer to
supporting quality and diversity. What do all the labels mean and how
do you know?
First of all wine is raw.
Wine is made from pressing the juice out of grapes and allowing that juice to ferment with strains of yeast. The yeast eats the sugar and converts it to alcohol and CO2 yes, carbon dioxide. In most cases the carbon dioxide is released, but in the case of sparkling wine, it is trapped in the bottle and that is where the bubbles come from- Voila! Champagne, but that is a different story. If all wine is only fermented grape juice, what is vegetarian/vegan wine? Aren’t all wines by definition vegan or vegetarian? The answer is no, they are not. To remove the yeasts and particles from wines they are filtered. Most often in the filtration process a small amount of animal products are used from a variety of sources; gelatin, isinglass (fish bones),
casein and egg whites are all examples of products that are used.
Note: but a lot of this is old news and many wineries are more vegan than ever before. Not necessarily by choice but rather coincidence. Just call and ask a winery if you really want to know details.
Although it is a very small amount, if you are strictly vegan, you may want to pay attention to this fact. However, even if a wine is not labeled vegan or vegetarian- if a wine is labeled unfiltered, you have a good chance that it is animal free. Like with all agricultural products, there are basically three levels certifying the “green” factor of a wine.
As to whether a wine is sustainable or not might require a little research to ascertain. Because of the rigorous process to become certified organic, many small-scale wineries do not have the money and/or resources to obtain this classification. Many small wineries farm in a way that is environmentally friendly and their owners are proud and happy to share this information with you.
For this reason it makes sense to spend a few extra dollars to support a smaller venture that might not have corporate financial backing, but which embraces an eco friendly ethic. It is important to note that many wine regions sustainably farm, this number is being increasingly more and more.
Just like with food, organic wine is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and steer away from using most conventional pesticides; petroleum-based fertilizers or harmful fertilizers; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. In order for a product to be labeled "organic," a Government-approved certifier must inspect the vineyard to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. This process is expensive and time consuming.
Biodynamic farming is perhaps the most rigorous and intense method of farming. As applied to wine, biodynamic farming principles treat the vineyard as a whole organism rather than just concern for one singular crop. Biodynamic regards the soil as the life of the vineyard (which it is) and treats it with detailed focus and
attention; crop rotation, green manure, cover crops, wind protection etc. Thus biodynamic vineyards attain the most environmentally sound forms of production, and yield a very high quality crop. Traditionally more popular in France and Germany, biodynamic farmings has started to gain recognition and popularity in the US.
Wine can be an important part of enjoying life and food. Wine can calm your spirit and bring you in the moment to sit, relax and savor a meal with friends and family- raw, vegan, vegetarian or otherwise. Choosing wine should be as pleasurable as enjoying it, not an intimidating decision that makes you question
yourself and your choices.
And a quick note, Juli wanted to be sure everybody saw her mom's lovely
wine cork wreath creation. She's pretty creative, don't you think?
image collage above includes hand towel from anthropologie,