Wine without the headache – can it really be that easy?
Well, maybe. Although organic wine can’t promise to leave you completely hangover free, for many, avoiding the added sulphites in mass produced non-organic bottles can alleviate those dreaded achy heads.
Organic wine can still contain small amounts of naturally produced sulphites, but it’s safe to say that wine made without pesticides and chemicals will be much better for the body and significantly easier for it to process the alcohol.
This reduction of unwanted chemicals is also beneficial to the planet, encouraging greater biodiversity and less water pollution – something that can be a big problem in large wine-making regions.
How does the taste compare? You can expect the pure taste of the grape varieties to really come to the fore without a fog of chemicals to get through. If you prefer your meat and veggies organic, it stands to reason you’ll also prefer organic wine.
The result can sometimes be more earthy, certainly fresher, but overall we’d definitely consider an organic bottle better quality then it’s chemical-ridden counterpart.
You may find some organic wine displays the additional label of biodynamic. This takes things one step further, trusting nature to take its course with little-to-no intervention.
Isabelle Legeron, Master of Wine and RAW WINE fair founder, has noticed that more people want to know how their food and drink is produced. “Given that organic wines not only taste great but are also better for your health and the planet, why would you drink anything else?".
What used to be a very specialised area of wine making is now appealing to the masses and supermarkets have taken note, with many stocking a much larger range than in years gone by.
Here, we've rounded up the best organic wines across a range of prices, regions and grapes.
Domaine de la Metairie D’Alon Chardonnay 2016: £20, Vivino
A cracking little chardonnay with wonderful complexity, from a mountainous area between Limoux and Roquetaillade in Southern France.
The high altitude of the vineyard results in a crisp acidity, but couple that with a creamy oak and vanilla aroma, ripe lemon and biscuity hazelnut notes and you have a rich, yet balanced wine that is a joy to drink. Enjoy alone or up the indulgence with a creamy pasta dish.
Harvey Nichols Pecorino 2017 13%: £13, Harvey Nichols
Pecorino has long flown under the radar, letting the chiantis and pinot grigios take all the Italian wine glory. However, we think this is a seriously underrated grape, and Harvey Nichols has bottled a particularly great example.
Expect a depth and complexity which goes well with food, but is interesting enough to drink alone, thanks to the slight oak and touch of spice on the finish.
You might imagine this wine gets its name from the cheese, but actually legend has it that flocks of sheep, or pecora, would nibble on these grapes when moving to summer pastures. But as luck would have it, we can confirm it tastes excellent with a slice of pecorino as well.
Clemens Busch Riesling Trocken 10.4%: £90 for a case of six, Honest Grapes
With an ABV of just 10.4 per cent, this German riesling is a gloriously easy drinking option for the long hot summer we’ve been having. It’s both 100 per cent organic and biodynamic, made in a very natural way, with the wine producer preferring to let nature take its course. "Trocken" is German for dry, so you can expect a fresh burst of citrus with a pleasing salinity to finish.
Chateau De Monfaucon, Nobody's Perfect 2014 11.8%: £20, winebuyers.com
Awarded Silver at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2016, (not Gold, but then, nobody's perfect), this white Bordeaux is just the thing to accompany a Mediterranean summer feast.
It’s produced by biodynamic means and has a naturally lower ABV then you might expect from a rioja. Hairdresser-turned-winemaker Dawn Jones-Cooper has created an aromatic fruit-forward dry white wine that’s sold in top restaurants.
Tesco Finest Chilean Organic Sauvignon 12.5%: £9, Tesco
Made on the coast of Chile, the Campo Lindo vineyard or "beautiful estate" is regularly enveloped in a cooling fog which accounts for this sauvignon blanc’s dry mineral qualities.
A nicely balanced white with zesty citrus fruit on the nose, you’ll find it pairs well with both seafood and chicken.
Vinca Minor Mendocino County Carignan Rosé 2017 12%: £22.50, Roberson Wine
We know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but with a wine label this beautiful, can you really blame us?
This wine is created in California by photographer-turned-wine-maker Jason Edward Charles, who uses a native yeast fermentation, as opposed to a cultured one, before bottling, completely unfiltered.
Leaving it to chance in this way means that only 800 cases have been produced. Juicy watermelon and strawberries couple with aromatic herbs for a conversation-starting rose.
Chateau Leoube LOVE by Leoube 13.5%: £14.99, Daylesford
All Chateau Leoube wine is organic, but the new LOVE by Leoube is a particular delight if you’re a fan of pale pinks from Provence.
The Daylesford Organic-owned winery is situated in the picturesque Domaine de Léoube in the South of France, where the fertile ground produces fresh, crisp, bright, and dry wines.
Bursting with strawberry and white peach, try pairing with grilled asparagus, seared tuna steaks and a side of sunshine.
Terre di Faiano Organic Primitivo 14%: £9.99, Waitrose
Hugely popular with customers, this crowd-pleasing primitivo can be called upon to accompany good quality meat, slow-cooked ragu or cheese platters.
Made with organic grapes from Puglia in the South of Italy, this is an intense ruby red with fire in its belly, smoothed over with notes of vanilla and chocolate on the finish.
Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico 14%: £15.50, Berry Bros. & Rudd
Since their wine became fully organic in 2003, current owners, the Stucchi Prinetti family, have noticed fermentation has become easier to follow.
The result is this award-winning chianti which boasts a rich aromatic herbaceous nose, juicy cherries and a touch of fresh acidity which balances everything out perfectly. Super smooth with a long finish, we enjoyed ours with roasted red meat.
Bodega Mayo Garcia Magnanimvs Cava NV 11.5%: £66 for case of six, Vino Beano
Crafted from a blend of hand-picked Macabeo and Chardonnay grapes (which ensures only the best are selected), this straw-coloured Spanish sparkler has an impressive champagne nose on it, with soft, fine elegant bubbles.
Food-wise we can’t think of much this wouldn’t work with but the long dry finish would make it a welcome aperitif enjoyed with guests.
Sainsbury's Prosecco DOC Extra Dry, SO Organic 11%: £10, Sainsbury’s
Sainsbury’s has a dedicated SO Organic range of wines which makes shopping for styles free of chemical pesticides and fertilisers extra easy.
Refreshingly fruity and extra dry, with the classic stone fruit you’d expect from a prosecco made with grapes from the Veneto and Friuli region of Northern Italy. A fun summer aperitif.
The Verdict: Best Organic Wines
If you put the same bottle in your basket on autopilot, we’d suggest switching your favourite grape for the closest organic equivalent from this list to see if you can taste the difference.
However, we’ve awarded the best buy to Domaine de la Metairie D’Alon Chardonnay because as soon as it was finished we wanted to open another. Slightly kinder to the purse is the equally delicious pecorino from Harvey Nichols or if you’re after a red, you can’t go wrong with the popular primitivo from Waitrose.
Stacey Smith is the founder of food & drink website Crummbs