Wine, Beer & Sake
How Green is My Wine? Shades of Difference!
1. Conventional Wines in the US may contain up to 350 ppm (parts per million) sulfur dioxide (SO2) employed for color stabilization and to prevent oxidation, inhibit molds and bacteria and preserve the wine's natural flavor. EU maximum levels are 210 ppm (white wines) and 160 ppm (red wines.)
2. Wines produced by Sustainable Practices: Grapes are grown by practices that are ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially responsible. This involves a use of renewable resources with a focus on energy and water conservation, with the ultimate aim of a zero-carbon footprint. There are some regional sustainability certifications (e.g. Napa Green Certification) but there are no clear industry standards.
3. Organic Wines are wines produced from "organically grown grapes." No synthetic chemicals (fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, or pesticides) are allowed and minimal sulfur dioxide addition to 100 ppm maximum allowed. US and EU regulations require the label "Contains Sulfites." These wines may bear the CCOF (California Certified Organic Farm) seal, USDA Organic seal, etc.
4. "Free of Added Sulfites" labels are possible on rare wines containing up to 10 ppm maximum SO2. These wines are sometimes unstable and subject to oxidation.
5. Vegan wines are organic wines produced without the use of any animal products (isinglass, gelatin, casein, egg whites, etc.) which are usually used in the process of fining the wines. Bentonite clay is used as a fining agent.
6. Biodynamic: This is a system of sustainable farming (including organic pesticides), but aiming to create a self-sufficient farm, free of external inputs. Natural manure, compost, and quartz preparations are used according to an astronomical calendar. This involves the use of cover crops, wildlife zones, encouragement of biodiversity and natural predators to control insect pests. The biodynamic farm aims to produce a unique expression from each site, to reflect the terroir in the personality of the grapes and, when done correctly, the wine. The Demeter logos or "certified by Demeter" is the only guarantee of authenticity.