Biodynamic Wine & Wine Varietals
Red, white, sparkling, rose…
Dry, crisp, earthy, fruity, sweet…
Smooth, full bodied, round, balanced…
With an estimated 10,000 plus varieties of grapes grown worldwide, the varietals and flavor profiles of wine are practically infinite. And thank goodness, because every winemaker (and wine enthusiast) knows that each person’s palate is incredibly unique. The specific flavors of a wine that one person picks up on and enjoys can differ dramatically from another’s. Fortunately, when it comes to wine selection, there truly is something to please everyone’s individual taste buds!
Though there are hundreds of wine varieties, some of the most common and well known varietals include Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Malbec, and Syrah.
Now, whether you’re a wine connoisseur or a novice, you might have a favorite or an automatic go-to. Or, perhaps your choice fluctuates with the weather, the season, the occasion, or the meal you’re dining on while sipping your wine (known as “wine pairing”). And for some, there are even more variables than just taste, type, mood, and atmosphere that are taken into consideration when choosing which glass to enjoy. How and where the grapes were grown and the techniques used when making a wine may contribute when making their selection.
Terms such as organic, biodynamic, sustainable, natural, and vegan can occasionally be found on a wine bottle’s label, and may help persuade a consumer to choose a particular vintner’s over another.
It’s not always easy to decipher what titles like these mean, however, so let’s take a closer look to discover just what they indicate, and how they differentiate from each other.
Sustainable refers to winemaking processes that are eco-conscious, and socially and economically responsible. This means prioritizing things such as soil health by maintaining biodiversity, utilizing renewable energy resources, and implementing water conservation practices and recycling procedures. The philosophy of sustainability is to ensure that the land remains the same, or becomes better, than it was originally found.
Some wineries may have an official stamp of certification signifying they are sustainable, while others may simply use the term to indicate that they focus on sustainability to some degree.
Being classified as sustainable does not automatically mean that a winery is certified organic or biodynamic. Quite often however, sustainable wineries do engage in these practices as well.
An organic wine means that no artificial chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers were used in the growing of the grapes. Organic regulations do not allow the addition of sulfites, so this label also means that there are no added sulfites in the wine (Note: all wine will contain naturally occurring sulfites. Wine without added sulfites may not always be organic, and may sometimes be labeled “NSA” indicating “no sulfites added”).
A winery must be officially certified as organic to carry the emblem. However, due to the high costs and extensive processes of becoming certified, it is not uncommon for wineries to use organic farming methods, but not be certified as such.
When it comes to wine, “natural” is a pretty loose term, and isn’t regulated or very clearly defined. Generally though, this title refers to wine that has gone through natural growing, harvesting, and fermentation processes.
This likely means that the grapes were not grown with the use of pesticides or herbicides, and that the grapes were hand picked when harvested. (All wine considered “natural” should also be organic, whether certified or not.)
The winemaking process is also natural, relying on native yeasts to spontaneously trigger fermentation, rather than manipulating the process by adding yeast. No other additives, such as flavor, sugar, or acids will be used anywhere in the process either.
Sulfites, which are conventionally used to preserve and stabilize wine, thus giving it a longer shelf life and ensuring that its original flavors remain, are typically not added to natural wines.
The purest of naturally made wine may be referred to as “zero-zero” or “00” indicating that absolutely nothing at all was added (or removed) anywhere in the process or to the final product.
Natural wines are often unfiltered and unfined, so may contain particles or residues. They are typically made in much smaller batches, and have a much shorter shelf life.
Essentially, the idea behind “Natural” winemaking is having minimal intervention, or a hands-off approach throughout the entire process, from start to finish. (Well, other than the hand harvesting that is!)
Biodynamic winemaking is quite a fascinating and unique concept. A practice introduced in the 1920’s by philosopher Rudolph Steiner, biodynamic farming is based around an astronomical calendar, and according to the Biodynamic Association is defined as a “spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture, food production, and nutrition”. . The beliefs behind this practice are that everything in the universe is interconnected, and that the vineyard is a self-sustaining system.
Biodynamic winegrowers follow the rhythms of nature when pruning and harvesting their grapes, which is dictated by the phases of the moon.
There are four categories of days within the biodynamic calendar: Leaf Days - the ideal time for watering plants, Root Days - the best time for pruning, Flower Days - a time when the vineyard is left alone, and Fruit Days - the prime time for harvesting grapes. These categories also correlate with the four elements of nature; Earth, Fire, Air, and Water.
Biodynamic winemaking focuses on biodiversity and prohibits the use of any chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Instead, winegrowers utilize completely natural fertilizers and compost, using plant-based sprays, manure from animals raised on the premises, and chickens as pest control. Other plants, such as clover and wild grasses are also planted among the vines, which draws in beneficial birds and insects, and aids in loosening and nourishing the soil.
To be labeled as a biodynamic wine, the winery must be certified by Demeter. However, as with the case of becoming certified organic, there are high costs involved in biodynamic certification, and therefore, not all wineries that use these practices will be officially certified and labeled as such.
By definition, “vegan” means that an item (food, beverage, material, etc) does not contain, nor is derived, from any animal products, and that animal products were not used in its making. In the case of wine, it is not that some wines actually contain animal products, but that conventional winemaking processes, as well as packaging, often utilize animal products such as eggs, casein, and beeswax.
Fining and filtering are processes many vintner’s use to clarify and stabilize their wines. These steps are taken to ensure that no undesired particles, such as grape must, tannins, or leftover yeast, remain present in the final product.
Egg whites, gelatin (made from the collagen of animals), casein (a milk protein), and Isinglass (fish bladders) are most often used for fining wines. These agents bind to unwanted elements in the wine, causing them to collect and settle to the bottom of the vessel. The sediment (along with the binding agent) is then removed before final bottling.
Beeswax is occasionally used to seal bottles of wine, and agglomerated corks may utilize milk based glues. Technically these factors would also disqualify a wine from being considered vegan.
Fortunately, there are a number of alternative options and methods available when it comes to bottling, packaging, and fining wine that are vegan friendly. A winery may indicate on its label if a particular bottle is classified as vegan.
If you have ever eyed any of the bottles we have in our selection here at The Green Pineapple Wellness Cafe, you may have noticed some of these terms or emblems on their labels.
We are proud to support wineries that are aligned with our ethics of promoting sustainability, and that utilize processes and practices which are in line with our principles. And we are happy to be able to offer these selections to you! Our wine program consists of varieties that fall under each of the titles we’ve highlighted.
We have a diverse selection of wines by the glass, which are featured during our Happy Hour everyday from 4-6pm as buy one, get one.
And, we sell full bottles, which are 20% off during our Happy Hour.
But that’s not all. We also host complimentary wine tastings twice a month, showcasing organic and sustainable wines from our selection. During the event you can take advantage of 20% off of single bottle and case orders.
You can also experience the art of wine pairing at one of our monthly Farm-to-Table Wine Pairing Dinners, where we serve our biodynamic and organic wines alongside a four-course meal made with farm-fresh produce.
So whether you prefer red, white, sparkling, or rose; crisp, full bodied, dry, or sweet, or consider yourself to be a wine buff or a novice, we invite you to join us in discovering and enjoying both new and classic favorites from a virtually infinite array of tastes!