Organic costs more, it’s a well known fact that sadly has become far too accepted. But why? Why is it accepted and why is it allowed!! We all want to eat better, feed our kids the best we can and I’m sure on some level we all wantr to at least try to make sure the planet is is preserved for hopefully another generation or 3. If not then I’m going to start sending all my money to Elon Musk.
There’s a few different parts of the wine industry, and back when Organic Wine Club was launched, its safe to say that I had the easiest part to play as a retailer. But I remember at that point, I knew very little. I thought Chardonnay was just a wine and didn’t realise it was actually a grape and at one point in life I actually thought that to make Rose wine, you simply mixed the red one with some of the white one. Over an intense learning period this did change, obviously?! However in closing this chapter of life, dealing with the cut-throat ruthless behaviour of competitors and the attempted shaming from consumers chancing their luck for a freebie, I did learn to care and to pay attention.
So what is the big deal with certification, why do we really need it and why should we have to pay extra just for a freaking stamp from a scientist dropout to say our food and drink is free from the unnecessary stuff, or quite frankly all the crap, that’s added to make it last longer, taste sweeter or cover-up for the makers mistakes or laziness?
Do you know the real cost of that stamp of authority? We’ve covered this just a few times on here, but now that I don’t have to keep my mouth shut, I’m going to be very politically incorrect and I don’t care what any keyboard warrior/industry compatriate has to say.
[Insert finger snapping gif here]
So what does it really cost? Well I can tell you that if you want to add the little green flag into the label of your wine, it will cost the winemaker €2.00, and that’s per bottle! Yes oh yes, the business of organic wine is booming, and that before the wine has even left the vineyard. Then add tax, a mark-up so you can feed your family and, also possibly a bribe if your Italy. You know the developed and thriving first world country with the morals of a clearly unsatisfied female black widow spider!
In order to achieve this status however, let’s have a look at the time implications. It can take anywhere up-to 7 years for a winemaker to achieve this organic certificate, which really isn’t all that surprising. After all look at the state we’ve left the planet in with all our pollutants, artificial fertilisers and stupidity when it comes to plastics and actually recycling. Whoever thought that just burying it in the ground would work was a moron. Perhaps someone with a Donald Trump-like mentality who thought that this we could replicate the natural process to make oil, the same way the extinct dinosaurs did over millions of years!
Whilst I understand that this time factor isn’t necessary and accept this to an extent, a simple and externally produced analysis report from qualified laboratory technicians can tell you the contents of basically anything. This is required under certification rules as it is, so why can’t a vineyard achieve this status sooner if they can prove the bottle has no junk in the trunk? Perhaps the vague and ongoing annual cost of visits and inspections, which sometimes don’t even happen, is the reason for this, I don’t know? But it’s yet more costs to the winemaker before they’ve even sold a bottle or has access to the bragging rights of being organic.
Can I ask, have you bought a ream of paper recently? If you’ve not, it ain’t cheap and if you want to boost your green credentials and get the recycled stuff, even worse! Whilst I have not seen this physically and I will state that, supposedly if you wait the 7 years you will go through around 90 reams of A4 paper. To put that into perspective, the boxes of paper you get from the hard working office boy contains 5 reams. So that’s 13 full boxes of paper, per vineyard. Is it any wonder we need to destroy the Amazon Basin just to prove we’re going green!
We all want and scream for organic produce and green practices so that we can do our bit an save the world one bottle at a time, but this means we need to pay for it. So why do we whine about the cost? What possibly can a winemaker do to help this? Their hands are tied with this process of bureaucracy and we know that indie retailers are already struggling, a well know fact from our High Streets.
So how can we be guaranteed that what we’re consuming is actually organic? Well there is enough of us in the world, we can all participate instead of watching the crazy on daytime tv (except Lorraine, we like Lorraine). To look at me for a suggestion would be idiotic, but perhaps trying something different and trust each other in a similar way that the exclusive group of winemakers SAINS does. or go a step further and blanket ban all chemicals in the production of food and drinks?
But I have a sweet tooth, I hear someone shouting at their smartphone in angst! Well natural sugars taste just as good and will help with those affectionately named rolls you carry around with you everyday. So get over it!
The question I put to you is it time to consider shunning the current certification process when a retailer, and I can speak from experience, can prove or disprove certain claims that can be made by a producer. Who should be responsible for this organic label that we all strive to consume? Is it the producer, the retailer, the consumer?
Organic shouldn’t be a paupers dream, equally it shouldn’t be a way for governments to raise money through tax or absolve them self from allowing their tax payers to consume shit, it should be the only way of life and if we want to make it accessible, is this possibly the quickest and easiest way.
'Over the last 2 years, Dimitri and I would find the time to sit and try to summarise our year so that we could glorify the successes of our year. But after the last few months I’ve had, the shine has worn off and I’m sitting here alone drowning my sorrows with a bottle of my organic gin.'
If this article had been written by the person I was 5 years ago, that’s how it would have started, continued and finished. The problem I have though, is that I feel myself heading back towards that version of myself. Going backwards isn't always bad, but that’s not who I am anymore. Glimmers of this previous persona were skulking in the shadows this year, the perfect example being, me making whiny comments that the world should all start being a little nicer to each other. Why on earth would I think that? Probably because all I wanted was for people to start being nicer to me. A perfectly acceptable trait and the stereotypical temper tantrum of children over the age of 21.
Being honest however, it’s relatively clear for people to see that 2018 wasn’t the best year. With some incredible highs that reached beyond the stars, it has had some pretty shocking lows that have been described as being similar to Dante’s seven circles of hell. But if it's that obvious, then simply some self-reflection is needed to ensure that sensible business decisions are made in the future? Well any reasonable business-minded idiot could tell you that. So for me the real question remains, how does Organic Wine Club learn and grow beyond this year?
To be blunt, I don’t think that it will. What I do know however is that Organic Wine Club is about both Dimitri and myself, as well as everything we’d hope to achieve through this in life. What I also believe is that in order for this patronage free beverage dispenser to learn and grow, is for us as individuals to do so first. That way when we're looking in the mirror, the smiling reflection looking back is our lives loves, hopes and dreams, which should be the truest reflection of our developed and learned personalities.
At the very top of this post, there’s a list of names that I’m sure you may have queried. Articles of gratitude generally contain them, but usually at the end after you’ve finished piling praise unceremoniously over yourself first. I don’t think I’m that developed to be emotional about this, but I’ve come to realise that by doing this it’s essentially devoid of the actual sentiment and is really just meaningless.
Why should you list them last? Not unlike all the King’s Horses and the King’s Men that put Humpty Dumpty together again, this list of names is a collection of exceptional individuals from every walk of life that have shared the joy and great achievements, but equally picked up the broken pieces of me from the floor over this year. Personally speaking, I think they are the very greatest people that walk this earth and I owe an incredible debt too them, where merely words will never be able to compensate for everything that they have all done in times of light and dark.
There is one name missing though, let me not forget my co-founder Dimitri. The very main reasons that Organic Wine Club is in existence today is due to his love and passion of wine, his re-affirmed belief in the philosophy of organic produce and his dedication to strive for a simpler, healthier and better world. So, without him Organic Wine Club wouldn’t be here in this form. More importantly however, with his unfortunate absence this year, this business wouldn’t be the child I love and carry around with me every minute of every day. The same child that’s permitted me, through triumph and crippling humiliation, to become better educated so that I could take flight and flourish as a result. When trying to take the good with the bad equally, I’d never have progressed and developed into who I am today. Honestly, I think I would probably still be the spoilt, finger-pointing fairy that I eluded to earlier. So, to Dimitri, thank you.
In concluding, normally I’d try to offer some level of wit or something annoyingly catchy and memorable, but with this I’ve struggled to try and find the best way or the correct expression to summarise what 2018 has been. Whilst writing this article though I’ve realised that 2018 was the year that, after 32 arduous years, I finally became an actual grown up.
So to everyone that come to visit us this year at Organic Wine Club, customers & members purchasing or not, winegrowers and their exceptional produce, suppliers and their magnificent teams behind the scenes and to everyone that has come into our world, thank you for absolutely everything and we wish you the greatest happiness in 2019!
Alex, Dimitri & Lucky The Organic Rebels, Fighting Convention
Since then, it is rather easy to promote our vegan wine range as products that are produced with no use of animal-derived materials. The latter could be utilized in filtration, clarification and fining of a wine and used to be a rather traditional technique going back to Medieval times.
Yet of course the evolution goes on and we are now looking at re-evaluating our human practices and lifestyle. So it is not strange that veganism is on the rise, people are looking for more humane treatment of animals and that goes into many aspects of our life. It is turn for every wine drinker to be conscious of how their wines are produced.
We appreciate that when you first stumble upon a concept of vegan wine, it could sound a bit of a weird concept. Wine is made of grapes, isn’t it? Read our co-founder Alex’s post on vegan wines and how he perceived them from the start.
To sum up, yes, many wines are made using different products made from animal produce and they are therefore not suitable for vegans.
1 Vegan wine does not contain anything animal-derived
True that, hence all the tireless work of Organic Wine Club to identify producers and showcase only the best natural wines that are produced without using anything that comes from an animal. We appreciate that not every producer will be able to spend additional money to certify their wine as vegan (as there is no legal requirement), so we go an extra mile and research technical specifications of every wine to get all the details, how it was produced and whether it is vegan or not. Have a look at our detailed wine descriptions and find out whether your selected wine is vegan or not. We provide similar identification for sulphites, sugars and of course alcohol.
2 Vegan wine is more of a philosophy of winemaking rather than a marketing ploy
We have recently written about our stance on vegan wines [see our blog post here]. It is about our rebellion against additives in wine, but also against using animals as a source of our wasteful food. Vegan wine therefore becomes something bigger than a diet requirement - it becomes a philosophy of not harming others. We do not look for a vegan logo simply because it might work as a marketing message, we promote such products because they are compassionate.
Vegan wine is fully in-line with our own business philosophy - a quiet rebellion against additives (sulphites) in wine. We promote real wines - made without animal derived materials and nothing added to adjust the flavours (no added sugars or preservatives).
3 Vegan wine is usually unfiltered
That’s great news for everyone who loves more flavor, depth and character in wine. Who would have thought that caring about animal lives bring some ‘side effects’ of better wine body, fulness of its flavour and uniqueness.
Many vegan wines that are produced in smaller quantities by passionate artisans (the types we are working with!) are to reflect traditions, its land and match to their local cuisine. That’s why we call them characterful, as these vegan wines are full of passion and you can simply taste it!
4 Vegan wine is good for the environment
Quite frankly, animal agriculture is one of the most wasteful and also one of the biggest polluters on the planet. If you combine it all together, the whole transport system produces less of damaging greenhouse gases than animal agriculture. So yes, vegan wine, being free of anything animal derived is also your statement that you care about the environment and future generations.
5 Vegan wine is good for your health
Sometimes people look for wines that do not contain traces of egg, gluten or other substances that, frankly speaking, simply shouldn’t be there. We cannot make any claims or even draw a logical conclusion as for diabetes or weight loss, however, if your vegan wine is unfiltered and also produced without preservatives, it means that it is alive. It means that it still contains a vast array of beneficial bacteria. Healthy gut means happier you, but it also contributes to a better weight management and metabolism. See our blog article on natural wine and gut health.
Why are you vegan or having some vegan days? Is it because you’ve heard that it’s better for your health? This is a very pragmatic approach. Vegan diets do need some planning. Yet they offer a lot of health benefits, it is true. However, some of you will argue that it is the only reason.
How about showing compassion to all living beings, how about an effective use of our resources and finally limiting the pollution? These reasons go beyond pragmatism, they touch human values, philosophy of life and thinking ahead, caring for our next generations.
Similarly, for us at Organic Wine Club, we've always explained vegan wines to everyone as the ones that are simply made with no use of animal-derived materials. That’s the easy and also pragmatic way how to describe it.
Yet we realise now that for many of you this is not the only thing to check and care about. As it becomes a vegan lifestyle, a some kind of outlook on life, vegan wine is only an effect, a product of winemaker’s lifestyle and his decisions. It becomes less of a commercial decision, say, to jump on a vegan bandwagon. It just showcases winemaker’s beliefs. So it is not a big corporation suddenly announcing that they will develop a vegan wine brand. For us it’s about an honest artisan, who produces their wines as vegan friendly and does it because they believe in the philosophy.
Based on thousands of wines sampled, we can expertly conclude that you can taste the difference between these two approaches - the one with a soul and the one with the marketing message in mind.
Vegan Wines at Organic Wine Club
Let us tell you just a bit more about artisans we work with who produce delicious vegan wines.
Cave de Ribeauville
The vineyards of Ribeauvillé have been here since the beginning of time. It were the Lords of Ribeaupierre and the Benedictine monks who first made use of the natural resources with its south facing slopes and different top soils. Despite all the upheaval in this part of France since 1895, Cave de Ribeauvillé has managed to preserve its spirit and resolve. From generation to generation, from one vintage to the next, the desire to make great wine has continued unabated. See our older blog post about meeting their winemaker.
We just cannot get enough of their amazing SenzaNiente brand of 100% pure wines - they are vegan, 0 added sulphites and are so alive!
Our fourth generation farm, tends vineyards and olive groves with heart, passion and soul in Abruzzo. We farm organically; repudiate the use of chemicals in the cellar; use only spontaneous fermentation by wild yeasts; no filtration or stabilisation - only Grapes.
We have been listing wines made by this Italian producer from the very beginning of trading. These wines never failed to disappoint neither us or our wine club members. Our co-founder Alex repeatedly named Titouan (aged red) as one of his favorite wines, you can check his wine review here.
The wines follow similar 100% purity standards, as Marina Palusci, so don’t expect any added sulphites or additives here too. Their Gavi wine is a true classic with a very moderate acidity and will be great for those white wine lovers who prefer slightly less acidic mouthfeel.
Bodegas Parra Jimenez
Organic Wine pioneers, Bodegas Parra Jimenez are now a well-established business in the heart of Spain. Their Verdejo, Graciano and Tempranillo are very straightforward, approachable and also very affordable organic and vegan wines. They constantly are featured in our Introductory and Best Value cases.
Albet i Noya
Another great example of precision, this producer is located in the south of Spain: 100% adherence to vegan and no added sulphites practices. We have been incredibly successful in selling their still white wine made in a very neutral style, perfect for delicate oysters and canapés.
Yet a true find is their no added sulphites and vegan sparkling wine that is made following the Traditional Method and based on Xarel-lo grapes. They grow the grapes on a selected vineyard, one of the most beautiful on the estate given the layout of its terraces, is ideal for extracting a high quality wine with a great aromatic concentration thanks to its low output, its chalky soil that is poor in organic material and the application of biodynamic cultivation techniques.
Local Sedlescombe winery does not need much introduction. Based north of Hastings, they produce a selection of inspirational and award winning English sparkling wine. They are the oldest organic vineyard that also produced England's first biodynamic wine. Classic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blend offers purity of flavours and suitable for vegan, but also for gluten-free diets.
Baglio Gibellina is situated in picturesque Sicily where its vineyards are surrounded by the hills of Salemi and Santa Ninfa. Old vineyards located between 300-600m above sea level are grown on a mixture of clay and volcanic soils with limited yields allowing for the production of outstanding wines with incredible food matching potential.
Have a closer look at their Grillo, Nero d’Avola and Merlot wines - they offer incredibly attractive price points and a great everyday drinking vegan wine.
Marco Colicchio believes that if the grapes are good enough, they should be able to produce wine that needs to assistance or human interference. The wine is unfiltered and unfined, made without any added sugars and without any artificial yeasts. We have got two amazing wines from him, check out Marco Colicchio Malvasia that is made with 14 days skin contact, so it is not a white wine anymore, it is more of an orange wine.
We also adore how passionately and humbly he says about his work: "My work takes place for most of the year in the countryside between the rows and the olive trees, which is why I chose to go down this difficult road. when I started, I set a single goal: to try to interfere as little as possible with those that are the natural life processes of plants and that vast world of fermentation and maturation of wine. I did not force myself to choose not to use synthetic chemistry in the vineyard, let alone to renounce to wineries that for many companies are the routine but that for me it meant making a non-sincere product, which did not reflect my territory nor much less myself. I try to make every year my wine, my different wine, sincere that no one else belongs to me and my vineyard can do."
Vegan Wines philosophy
We fully agree with Marco. Your consumption of vegan wine is also a sign of your support. We vote by our money. It is your support for life’s pleasures that are made by values and principles, honesty and belonging. It is a quiet rebellion against killing animals for our food or, as in our case, to clarify or filter the wines.
Organic Wine Club wants to join this rebellion and stand against excessive use of additives, sulphites. Animals should not be used or abused to produce our wines, so cheers to all of you and our vegan wine producers.
It’s of no surprise we are eager to discuss Italian organic wines. During the last few years we see more and more very exciting new artisans who are making exceptional wines without reaching £100 price tag. They aren’t new per se, it is just they are now slowly reaching the point of exporting their wines to the UK. And we are tasting hundreds of them only to pick a few really delicious examples.
What’s so special about Italian natural wine this days?
To start with, it’s a whole approach to rejuvenate their own local varieties. At the end of the day, how many times will you drink Cabernet or Merlot made by a very similar method? You will want something new and exciting, especially from Italian red wine. Yet if the world is going towards homogenisation in order to maximize on the profits, that could be a very difficult ask for a non-pricey product. That’s why Italian artisans are taking old native varieties, and we are not just talking Sangiovese or Pinot Grigio, but rather something like Garganega or Barbera, Grillo or Cortese, to make good quality wines that will excite your palate.
Organic or Natural Prosecco.
Well, we don’t even want to go down those ‘Prosecco shortage’ news. We simply want a top quality Prosecco made naturally and with some character too. We are happy to report that our organic Prosecco is being supplied to a few influencers in organic and sustainable living space. So grateful for their support, but in this case the product speaks (or drinks) for itself!
Good Quality Italian Wines.
The increase in wine quality is totally astonishing. We all know the region of Piedmont, after all most of us are keen to have a glass of top-notch Barolo. Same goes for Tuscany with its Brunello di Montalcino. Great tasing Italian red wine, a bit posh, but commands a similar price tag too. We do have no added sulphites wines from Piedmont and Tuscany, a bit more democratic yet similarly vibrant and exciting. Check out our 0 sulphites added wines by Castello di Tassarolo for a great example of Piedmontese producer or Tuscan lively example of Vino Rosso by San Michele. Both of these Italian red wines are our bestsellers.
But the real change is coming from the regions that used to produce fairly bulk wines just a decade ago. Think Sicily. It has a unique volcanic soil, surrounded by sea and enjoys a fantastic Mediterranean climate. Yet until just recently its wines were not on top of anybody’s list (pardon our directness!). Yet starting from Grillo (we have a few exciting winemakers working with us), Catarratto and Nero d’Avola, it offers an amazing value for money (see for yourself) and a bag of character!
For the all-round favorite in terms of Italian red wine you can turn your eyes towards Montepulciano. This is an awesome grape variety that offers uncomplicated juiciness and some richness too. Our Tullum and Senzaniente brands are rocking our wine club members palates every week!
As our Italian wine range is always fluctuating with wines going out of stock very quickly, we also love to say a few words about our absolute bestsellers, Cannonau wines from Sardinia, Primitivo wines from Puglia, Pinot Grigio from Veneto, Gavi and Monferrato from North of Italy and much more. Yet as the festivities just around the corner, it will be probably organic Prosecco made of quality Glera grapes, no added sulphites and no headaches the next morning (caused by excessive sulphites in wines).
Nobody says Italians are completely forgetting International varieties. You can find Cabernet (see our Veneto producer who does an amazing job under his ‘Animae’ brand) or Merlot, which is regarded as a bulk and easy wine by Italians themselves.
Soul and Passion in Italian Winemaking.
Another really admiring aspect of Italian winemaking is their community approach. You probably won’t find that many cooperatives and small farms as you will in Italy. We used to stock Il Terraio wine that is being produced by a social enterprise that offers its ground for those rehabilitating from metal health issues. Similarly, our bestselling Valli Unite wines are being made by just three small farmers who have joined forces to offer stunning wines at an unbeatable price. We have met guys at Fatalone, a local Puglia legend - they produce Primitivo wines for generations, just one grape variety, different ageing, and superbly delicious.
Italian Wine Verdict
There is obviously so much more to say, and we will be coming back to update this guide so it stays fresh and current, as Italian natural wines do now. Yet we leave you to enjoy life. That’s exactly what those winemakers want you to do - not to listen to some retailer’s mambo jumbo but just cook an honest dinner and open a good bottle of wine produced by an artisan not a massive faceless factory.
In this short article we discuss gut health, natural fermentation, miso, Buddhism and bacteria in natural wine.
Sounds a bit strange, but leaves you quite curious? Read on.
We all know wine is a result of fermentation of freshly picked grapes. Fermentation occurs when yeast, sometimes naturally present on the skins of the grapes*, starts to ‘eat’ sugar and hence produce alcohol.
*lt is an ideal, but the most risky scenario. In majority of cases yeast is added. In natural winemaking oftentimes it is wild yeast, very similar to the natural one; in commercial - special strains of industrially manufactured yeast.
Do you know that yeast imparts a lot of flavour to the wine? You can make a similar comparison with sherry - that citrusy, almondy and yeasty flavours are coming more from yeast and barrels rather than grapes. Grapes in that production process are chosen to be very neutral. It is the same with Champagne too - the task is not to showcase the grape, but rather the winemaking process, so you can taste all those brioche-alike flavours.
What happens also in natural winemaking is that due to absence or bare minimum of sulphites and preservatives the wine is still alive with a set of very beneficial bacteria. If you want to learn more, inspire yourself with knowledge about bacteria, there is a book called ‘10% Human’. The author discusses how all of us are made of just 10% truly human cells in total, the rest are bacteria cells actually. Striking, isn’t it?
What’s more important to know that our moods are dictated by our bacteria. If our gut bacteria is happy, we feel happier too. We really do not want to upset our bacteria.
Usual enemies of our gut bacteria are antibiotics; yet it is also handy to know that refined and processed foods are simply feeding the wrong kind of bacteria, the one that does us no good. So we don’t want that either.
Wine, being a type of alcohol, is generally in the latter category, meaning it doesn’t do much good to our gut bacteria. Yet there is a more pleasing exception - naturally fermented wine still contains strains of very beneficial bacteria. When people say that 1- 2 glasses of wine a day with dinner is OK, we agree, but with a stipulation that you need to choose natural wine without added sulphites. These aggressive preservatives kill that beneficial bacteria. That is why you are much better off with pure wine with no preservatives. Real wine is still alive, that life is composed of millions of bacteria cells.
Please note that we do not advocate drinking over the limit just so you can consume a lot of beneficial bacteria. In case of a real need you can opt for a supplement instead. Just to make sure we are clear on that!
Similarly to wine, it is beneficial to add the following foods to your diet: naturally produced yogurts, kefir and other especially non-dairy based fermented produce (you can find coconut or even soya yogurts easily), but also kimchi, miso, different pickles, sauerkraut and kombucha. We have started selling the latter as well - it has a nice sparkle in a glass and a lot of benefits for your gut. In that way you can feel healthier and happier as well by feeding your good bacteria.
Buddhist practices promote macrobiotic diet as a whole, so all vegetables and fermented products are given a centre stage. In addition to that, they have a very useful commandment that forbids Buddhists to over-intoxicate themselves with drugs or other substances as it brings heedlessness. This is a very important factor and we were trying to make it as a key one from the beginning of Organic Wine Club that you need to pay attention to what kind of wine you drink (read, notice the quality and the amount of chemicals added) and drink less but better wine. Paying attention is a key aspect of Buddhist meditation and a very good addition to a healthy lifestyle with no regard to your religious beliefs. It helps to de-stress and adopt a more grounded outlook on life however busy it is at the moment.
So to sum up, good bacteria means healthier gut and as a result healthier and also happier you. You don’t need to go over board with sulphite free wine to feel that touch happier. It is possible to naturally treat your gut. If you like many others this festive season are thinking about getting healthier, think about your gut bacteria, get outside and enjoy the nature, adopt a pet, eat organic and drink natural. Cheers to that!
If you like me are on the lookout for the healthiest possible wines to drink, natural wines are definitely what you need. Yet the question is how to recognize one as such?
Now, we have been in a slightly more fortunate position in terms of wine knowledge and expertise, hence we decided to compose this short shopping guide to natural wine. After all, you only need natural wine certification to guarantee you the most pure wine possible. We at Organic Wine Club are with you.
Yet it is not that simple unfortunately. There is no certification body for natural wines. No such thing, nada.
There is organic certification (Soil Association, ECO Cert and a few more) and Biodynamic (Demeter and just a tiny bit more), but that’s about it.
Does this certification any help one of us? In theory yes as it will guarantee that the level of sulphites will be lower than 100 mg/l. It will be a great deal for many as most of conventional wines could have concentrations reaching 300 mg/l easily and that’s not healthy at all. Ask me as a guy with nutrition certificate or as a WSET certified wine expert - no-one can deny that it is bad news. Yet even 100 mg/l is not an answer for allergy sufferers or asthmatics. They require levels lower than 45 mg/l (World Health Organisation).
Many natural winemakers do not opt for a certification of any sort as it in many cases requires them to have a more significant production capacity to outweigh the costs related.
Biodynamic certification is deemed as slightly stricter, but, at the time of writing, they haven’t adopted any stricter approach to use of sulphites in winemaking.
Many organic wines are therefore produced by organic principles but the wines are not properly certified. Based on our (sometimes very intimate) conversations with winemakers, they simply do not want to enter the bureaucracy, they deem it to be expensive and several times we even heard something along the following lines: ‘rebels do not seek proof’. They prefer to rely on the word of mouth knowledge of their product, they have enormous pride of their wines and also a very humbling decency about the business.
Natural Wine Cerification
‘Natural wine’ is some sort of fiction term - there is no regulation or certification about whether that given wine was produced using wild yeasts or naturally without major interruption to the process. So called ‘vin naturel’ will probably not have an indication of the exact use of sulphites and probably will state a natural process of some sort. Fair enough.
I want Real Wine
But what is ‘real wine’? We all want a real stuff, an adulterated product, free from additives, preservatives and especially flavour adjustments and colourants. The reality or a bitter truth of our modern wine production is that in many cases you get a very chemically adjusted wine that is not alive, it is not full of beneficial bacteria, it is simply coloured alcohol. I expect a nasty response from a huge number of big wine brands, but I don’t care. Let them prove they don’t adjust their wines with sugar, flavourings and an enormous amount of sulphites!
You are probably wondering why there is such a deal about the certification for natural wines. For many winemakers it is down to conditions year on year - put simply, they sometimes need to add a bit more sulphites in order to compensate for a very damp climate in order not to lose th entire vintage. For the small but passionate guys like those it is a huge deal. For them to add 10 more mg of sulphites is not a tragedy if it means they can feed their family (read, their wine would be good and it will sell out). Yet for the certification guys those 10 mg/l tiny quantity can mean that the wine is no longer regarded as sulphite-free, you see.
We at Organic Wine Club decided to remedy the situation by providing an honest service to both parties involved - our beloved wine club customers and natural winemakers too. Our decision was simple too - we want to take wines that contain sulphites at less than 45 mg/l. It means that these natural wines might not technically be certified or identified as such, but they a great fit for anyone who wants additive free wine and especially for allergy sufferers (like me!).
When you look at this issue further you will probably come to the same conclusion as us - the winemaker’s philosophy is the thing that will determine the quality of the product. You can check their story, how they work in the winery, buy their grapes; you can check their website, check about the guys behind the wine. Wine does not need to be a sheer commodity, we invite you to spend a bit of time learning about its provenance and just a tiny bit more details about the production process. Luckily, we at Organic Wine Club provide you with extensive stories per almost each wine, but you can also check their websites, visit trade shows like The Real Wine Fair and Raw Wine.
Based on what we’ve learned about this business works, knowing a producer a bit better allows you to know their range of wines as they work fairly similarly across the entire range of their wines.
Your next step if to vote for your wine (or wines) with your money. You can see that you also vote for wine philosophy and for an honest and higher quality product. You are not only to drink that gorgeous wine, you are to support those winemakers, their businesses and a bit more goodness in this world. Cheers to that!
Do you remember the last time you were out of breath simply because you were tired, stress or just very sad? It’s not a nice feeling at all! I also remember that my instincts or better call them habits were telling me to pour a glass of wine. It will probably take or 3 more glasses until I would make myself more relaxed, take s few deeper breaths and start to unwind.
Many of us has those days and that’s OK. Yet do you see a very wrong pattern in this scenario?
When we are gulping for air, our body is simply telling us to stop, have a deep breath and think more clearly. Instead, we opt for a glass of wine, gulp one or several without noticing its flavour or aroma and only then turn our attention to breathing (if it at all happens for us). I was like this for a long time but my mindfulness practice got me thinking that simply another way around is better.
Next time your life will look like a stressful myriad of events, simply take a pause.
Tell yourself (force if necessary) to sit down and have 5-10 very deep breaths. Inhale and exhale so you can hear it. Return to normal breathing afterwards. If you got 5 minutes, and please do not say no to this, it is obvious that 99% of things are not that important, close your eyes and count your normal breaths. Simply count them from 1 to 10 and keep your attention on the action of breathing. It if not as simple as it seems, your mind, especially when it’s agitated, will try and run away somewhere. Most probably, it will take you back to the object of your stress, you can simply acknowledge that and then gently get your attention back to breathing and counting. You can’t control it, so it is OK when it goes astray.
The beauty of this exercise it not only it de-stresses you, it also trains your attention muscle - with time you will be able to return your attention to breathing quicker and easier.
Research has shown that this simple breathing practice calms you down and makes your mind more grounded. You will have better chance in finding the solution or simply feeling that slightly better. It is a much more effective tool than alcohol.
Yet of course, when you have found the solution and you are calm and happy about it, you can celebrate it with a glass of your favourite natural wine. As it is made without added sulphites and preservatives, it won’t give you that hazy morning feeling as most conventional wines do.
Here you have it - you got yourself a simple breathing solution that will make you feel better and what’s more, healthier, instead of ‘tricking’ yourself with a glass of alcoholic drink simply to relax.
If you want to task us with your own tailored car of wine - just pick one of our Wine Club cases. Cheers!
P.S. My own personal perspective:
I have noticed a lot of progress when I started turning my attention to breathing first (compared to wine or a myriad of issues). If you want to learn more advanced techniques, I’d recommend checking some yogic practices called pranayama. This basic and more advanced exercises will also help to lower you blood pressure, slow down heart rate, tame your anger and many more benefits. What’s more, emotionally you will become more loving and compassionate to your own self. You can really give a helping hand by simply breathing.
My favourite Pranayama exercises:
Complete breath: engage your abdominal, chest and collar bone areas. Do a full and long exhale.
Step breathing: step inhale and then exhale fully; full inhale and then step exhale. By 'step' it means you need to take multiple small inhalations or exhalations instead of one longer one.
Ocean breath: make a light sound with your throat (great for high blood pressure), it can remind you of soft ocean waves (humming with your throat). It is calming and energising. Lowers blood pressure. Relieves insomnia (make a slight contraction at the entrance of your wind pipe).
Alternate nostril breathing: pretty much self-explanatory, but you can simply close a nostril and breathe with another one, on a next exhale you can make a change. Five or more rounds of this and this exercise will ground you very nicely.
Tibetan 'humming bee' breath: sit in prayer and inhale, exhaling move your hands to rub over your face, top of the head, back of the head and ears.
Bellows breath: a ver invigorating practice where all you need to do is to breathe forcefully - quick and forceful abdominal inhalations and exhalations.
From the world of yoga I'd recommend you try a very grounding 'Camel' pose, it regulates thyroid, boosts immune system and good for digestion.
I'd look forward for your own tips and tricks - just ping us via Contact form. Many thanks!
It's quite unorthodox to be writing about olive oil on the wine blog. Yet as it is sometimes about cooking rather than drinking wine, who would have thought! I am on the mission to get many foodstuffs done for my party guests whilst spending very little time preparing and serving them. I just love to chat, forgive me for my lazy or shall I say relaxed approach to hosting!
I have been thinking about this party for a long time. I want sheer simplicity, but with some bold flavours too. I guess it is similar to when you like honest people, but them being themselves too.
One thing I have learned from Leith's Cookery School quite a few years ago, was that you should never buy shop made pesto. It is so easy to make it yourself that you will never get back to a commercial form! Simply get a bunch of basil, a handful of pine nuts, 2 garlic cloves (more or less depends how you like it), some Parmesan cheese and of course a dollop of great quality olive oil. Thankfully this olive oil made from Kalamata olives, with its flavoursome qualities it fits the bill perfectly.
I have chose this product as our Organic Star, not because it is Greek as the origins of my name or that it is green as my favourite colour, but for its flavour. You will love your pesto and should you also consider making some alterations, simply pick different herbs (i.e. coriander or parsley) and choose other types of nuts like walnuts (to make a Georgian style of sauce) and you have a very nice selection.
It does not end here of course. After quite some time contemplating simplicity and frugality, I must admit I have learned that you do not need much; when you want less, you can actually be happier. Hence my next selection of dips would be ultra-simplistic: I am going to make an asparagus and pecorino dip, black beans and garlic, chickpeas, African spices and Parmesan varieties. They will be bold, but they will all need a good portion of a flavoursome olive oil. That is how I, without cooking much, can save time and turn myself to be a great host.
Some would like to talk, some would love to hear what's new with their friends and that's how they roll. I prefer to offer a good snack and enjoy each other's company. Cheers to that (I am not going to talk wine this time, but surely you have loads of Organic Star reviews from the previous months and months if you need inspiration!)
Finally, if you are wondering why I am eating cheese, then no. I am vegan and cheese is not an option for me, but I am not going to deprive my friends. I am in no circumstance going to cook them meat, but cheese as a non-killing option, so I will do my best to create a delicious dip (made of organic ingredients of course).
Yet for myself, well for everyone really, I will do a simple salad of high quality vine ripened tomatoes (from a hot country, so provenance of food is vital) and other salad veggies that I find in my local organic store. With no need to buy dressings, as their quick and simple to make and shop bought ones are normally loaded with chemicals, simply mix 3 parts of this olive oil with 1 part of unfiltered organic vinegar and 1/2 part of wholegrain mustard for a classic French dressing. Yum!
I will also have a supply of root veggies - they are absolutely stunning roasted and then simply served with a drizzle of this Esti organic olive oil. You can make it mild or spicy, it doesn't matter that much. The main thing you are not cooking your oil, so the whole goodness of its fat and micro-elements is still there in a pure form. That's how I love my wine too - a real wine, not some neutered lifeless alcoholic drink.
My friends know I am going to showcase something special from my own little cellar. I will select a delicate red to go with this all - it is warming, but mild enough not to overpower the olive oil.
Enough talk, I am going to serve some of this Esti oil with some bread whilst I am finalising details for my get together. Exciting. Cheers to you and come back soon for our festive editions of Grapes Alive!
P.S. If you are wondering what kind of wine would be best with dips that are based on this aromatic olive oil, you can use our popular guide 'How to Pair Wine and Food in 3 Simple Steps'. Yet the idea is simple - pick younger reds that have a vibrant acidity and a bit of a kick (maybe with some pepper notes too) or fresh but medium-bodied white wines.
What is a rebel? A man who says no, but whose refusal doesn’t imply renunciation. He is also a man who says yes as soon as he begins to think for himself.
We see rebellion around all the time - you can see vegans to deny buying animal-derived products and households that switch to renewable energy. Our beloved wine club members also also saying no to mass produced chemically neutered wine, they switch to natural wine instead.
Would you agree that we do vote all the time? Voting by our money is a very active step of rebellion. We don’t need to burn an animal farm just to prove the point that it’s cruel to animals. We also do not need to stop drinking wine just to say no to those badly made wines that are injected with preservatives.
Albert Camus said: “We shall choose Ithaca, the faithful land, frugal and audacious thought, lucid action, the generosity of a man who understands”. Understanding is key here, an awareness how your wine (or any of your foodstuffs for that matter) is produced.
There is a lot of beauty in our natural wine rebellion - we do understand the provenance of wine, how it gets to our tables, the needs of an honest winemaker. We know that the a good wine cannot cost £4; it’s simply not feasible when the UK duty is over £2! That’s the reason we at Organic Wine Club keep persevering to continue our own natural wine rebellion. We want to help drive change through action. We believe that we should be mindful about what we eat and drink and spread a kind word about the benefits of real wine.