Clean wines are having a moment right now! With the sudden boom in popularity of clean and organic wines, I’ve complied the questions I’m asked the most on this latest clean living health trend…cheers!
I think it’s probably twofold: one, the clean eating and lifestyle movement has been gaining in popularity for many years, and it’s becoming more prevalent in mainstream and social media. Two, as we are turning to food and drink as a way to relieve the stress of these challenging times, the health conscious among us are looking for healthier alternatives to their favourite treats.
It’s worth noting that these two terms are very different. There are no regulations around the term ‘clean’, and its definition differs wildly between food brands, bloggers, nutritionists and health experts. Typically, clean might mean no added artificial ingredients, but I would suggest looking for words on the label such as organic or biodynamic which have more stringent regulations.
However, even if a wine is labelled organic, this can mean different things depending on where the wine is made. In the U.S., organic wines certified by the USDA have strict regulations; they are grown without synthetic fertilizers, contain no added sulfites and all added ingredients must be certified organic. However, organic wines may still contain additives.
Certified organic wines do not contain sulfites and are typically lower in sugar than conventional wines. They also do not contain certain colorings and flavorings that may be found in conventional wines. It is the higher sugar content and additives in conventional wines that may cause headaches and other hangover symptoms in some people. In addition, organic wines have been found to have higher levels of antioxidants and polyphenols than conventional wines.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! All of the different terminology can be confusing even for someone like me, so always ask the wine store staff for help. Typically, the ‘cleanest’ of wines are both Biodynamic and Certified Organic, but depending on the county of origin the wine may be made close to organic standards, but just not have the certification. There are also a number of online retailers selling natural and organic wines, including Dry Farm Wines and Scout and Cellar. However, as a nutritionist it would be irresponsible for me not to mention that these wines still have the same alcohol content as their conventional counterparts, so it’s important to enjoy responsibly.