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Organic September: learn about organic wine

To celebrate Organic September, we’re diving head first into the world of organic wine. There are lots of questions to ask about this more sustainable winemaking process, so we asked Ocado’s Wine Buying Manager, Joseph Arthur to tell us all the ins and outs. 

Organic wine is made by cultivating grapes without using nasty pesticides, which means working more in tune with the weather and the land. So, how does organic winemaking really work? And what is biodynamic wine and biodynamic farming? Read on to learn more about both, and get tips on wines to drink too. We’ve got a great selection of reds, whites and rosés in our Organic Wines aisle. Pick up old-time favourites and dare to try new ones too – there’s so many to discover (and taste).

What are organic and biodynamic wines?

Imagine you’re a grape (no, seriously). You’re in a Sicilian vineyard, soaking up the late evening sun (it’s great being a grape). You’re not at risk of a sudden drenching and you’re not too hot, thanks to the balmy sea breeze rolling off the Med. You aren’t overly bothered by insects either. And that’s because the rows of wildflowers planted at your feet attract natural predators that gobble up vineyard pests. 

That’s the wonderful life of a grape lucky enough to ripen to perfection in a warm, dry area with good air circulation (which is vital because dampness can lead to a number of fungal diseases). In cooler, wetter climates though, nature needs more help. Traditionally in the form of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides because they’re cheaper and more readily available to buy. 

Organic and biodynamic wine producers maintain that organic cultivation results in healthier grapes. That’s why they work with the landscape and reject synthetic chemicals. 

So, what does biodynamic wine mean? And what is the difference between organic and biodynamic wine? First pioneered by Nicolas Joly, biodynamic producers take things one step further in the natural winemaking process, making their own pesticides from naturally occurring ingredients like nettle (an anti-inflammatory that prevents the grapes from getting sunburned) and producing their wine in a biodynamic viticulture. They also harvest according to the lunar cycle. This means harvesting in line with the idea that plants are more receptive to practices like fertilising or pruning at certain phases of the moon. 

Is organic wine the same as natural wine? The simple (or not so simple) answer to that is no. Although natural wine will always be organic, organic wine will not always be natural. This is because organic wine has yeast added to it during fermentation, while natural wine doesn’t. Additionally, organic wine doesn’t necessarily utilise the same minimalistic processing technique as natural wine does.

Wines all tell a unique story about where they come from and how their grapes grew – and that’s just one reason why I love trying new bottles! Open an organic or biodynamic wine and see what tales you can taste. Perhaps you can even taste the organically grown grapes.

Why not try one of these organic wines?

Veramonte Organic Sauvignon Blanc 13.5% ABV £11.49

Citrusy flavours meet tropical twists in this sauvignon, with wonderful aromatics on the nose and freshness on the palate. Hailing from Chile, it’s more rounded and ripe and less acidic than its New Zealand counterparts. Try it with salads, white fish or seafood for the ultimate taste experience.

Paxton Grenache 2020 14% ABV £22.99

In this McLaren Vale wine, biodynamic practices and the cooling sea breeze result in an intense yet delicate flavour profile. You’ll taste strawberries and raspberries, mixed with an earthiness as well as chocolate-coated cherries. Expect every sip to reveal something new. This wine is best enjoyed with pork or chicken dishes, or even gamey dishes such as venison or quail.

Purato Nero d’Avola Sicilia 14% ABV £9.99

This classic, full-bodied Sicillian wine is not only vegan, carbon-neutral and made with organic grapes (as if that wasn’t impressive enough). It’s also packaged in recyclable materials. Bursting with dark berry fruits and a spicy core, this vibrant wine offers an Italian freshness to keep you coming back for more. Serve this wine with foods like beef, pasta and lamb.

If you fancy more organic goodness, we recommend you visit our dedicated Organic shop. You’ll find lots of great products, from fruit and veg to beauty and toiletries.

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