The Case For Mindful Sips: Understanding Natural & Organic Wines
“Red or white?”
This is usually the only question I ask myself when perusing the wine aisle at my local grocery store. That and, “What’s on sale?”
Whether it be “two-buck Chuck” or a 3L Black Box to tide me and my wallet over, I’ve never been one to care too much about the quality of a wine. Wine is wine has always been my mentality.
Unfortunately, wine is not just wine. And sadly enough, most bottles are not plant-based either. Shocking, right? The list of FDA-approved “GRAS,” or “Generally Recognized As Safe” ingredients allowed in U.S. wines is exhaustive. Even worse, none of them are required to be printed on labels.
These ingredients are bizarre and include things such as foaming and coloring agents (like Mega Purple for color correcting), casein (milk protein), gelatin (protein from boiling animal parts), and many unnatural additives. Alongside grapes, these ingredients make up most of the conventional bottles on store shelves. One of the most disturbing GRAS ingredients is isinglass, which is used as a fining agent. Isinglass is derived from fish bladders.
It’s not all bad news, though; we don’t have to cancel happy hour. Rather, through a little bit of research, and by learning to ask specific questions, we can discover the exciting range of organic and natural wines, sans all the additives. Many, in fact, are stocked in major superstores. Even restaurants are beginning to offer natural and organic wine options.
* Countries vary in wine regulations and label certifications. Much of this article references only USDA standards and U.S. winemaking processes.