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Does organic wine taste better?

Of course, we’re going to say it does. We’ve tasted many organic wines prior to and in the setup of Wine Revolution, but regardless of our day job, we prefer to drink organic. It matches our lifestyle and concern for the long-term health of our planet. Our anecdotal experience says organic tastes better. Research confirms we’re correct.

Major research paper confirms organic wine tastes better

A recent study conducted by the University of California, ‘Does Organic Wine Taste Better? An Analysis of Experts’ Ratings’ (published in the Journal of Wine Economics, Vol. 11, No. 3, 2016), aimed to understand the link between product quality and organic or eco-certification in the US.

The research studied the ratings of 74,148 wines of over 30 grape varieties from 3,842 California wineries. The wine ratings of three leading global wine publications – ‘Wine Advocate’, ‘Wine Enthusiast’, and ‘Wine Spectator’ – all whom blind taste and rate wines out of a possible 100 points, were compared.

The research results indicated that organic is associated with a statistically significant increase in ratings. In fact, these wines scored on average 4.1 points higher than conventional wines. The results overwhelmingly support a link between better tasting wine and organic practices.

Why does it taste better?

It’s impossible to directly link one specific aspect of wine production that affects the taste of a wine. There are many variables to consider such as climate, weather, soil, farming methods and winemaking techniques. And like with any other profession there are people great at their job and others not so.

Healthy soil is key

Organic farming practices nurture nutrient-rich soils full of microbial activity. In turn, soil feeds the vine and is responsible for the quality of the fruit’s acidity and tannin structure. Soil vitality also contributes to the vineyard’s ecosystem; a healthy system helps to naturally combat disease and pests.

Winemaker Jeffrey Grosset, owner of Grosset Wines in Clare Valley and one of the world’s 50 most influential winemakers, states “Organic grapes allow me to get flavours that are exquisite and subtle at lower alcohol levels.” Furthermore, though he concedes it’s hard to quantify scientifically, Grosset believes organic wines taste better. Three Grosset wines are in the top 50 most collected Australian wines.

Less intervention in the Winery

Organic winemaking processes means no chemical inputs except for lower levels of sulphur dioxide, and mechanical processes that change flavour, such as reverse osmosis, are prohibited. An organic wine’s flavour profile is more pronounced, better represents where it’s grown, and is not masked or changed by additives and processes which are allowed in conventional wine.

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that organic wine does taste better, and certainly, in today’s market, the category is not suffering from a bad image as it used to. Indeed, the category has had a makeover.

The Old Perception of Organic Wine

Even though organic wine has been around for millennia, in recent decades it has had an image problem, deemed unfashionable, and of poorer quality than conventional wine. It was viewed as wine for the ‘greenies’. Longtime organic producers didn’t market themselves as organic for fear of affecting sales.

Another issue is that many consumers believe all wine is a natural product. You grow your grapes, crush, ferment and age them in a barrel and bottle the product. How grapes were grown, and wines made: the chemical inputs and agricultural methods utilised, and the additives and mechanical processes in the winery, weren’t given a second thought by marketers and consumers alike.

Food and Health Trends

In recent years the organic wine category image is improving. Driven by the growing consumer interest and knowledge of natural foods and general health and wellness, these trends sync nicely with organic and sustainable wines. Carefully tendered vines thriving within a natural ecosystem to produce pure fruit flavours that reflect the soil in which they are grown is what consumers want.

Spread your wine!

If you’ve had a bad wine then you’re more likely to think you don’t like that grape variety or style, when in fact you just had a poor example. Or perhaps you’re a creature of habit. Think about your own drinking habits. Still, don’t like chardonnay? Adamant you only like Marlborough Sav Blanc? Simply drink Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir and nothing else? Yawn! Regardless of the wine category – organic or conventional – we all have our go-to styles and grapes. With the rise of organic farming practices and an ever-widening choice of organic wines, it is time to ‘Spread your wines!’ and see what you are missing out on.