Sure, it's made from grapes. But does that make wine eco-friendly?
Not unless those grapes are grown organically; and if they're grown locally, even better (Ideal Bite claims that "a local wine always trumps an organic one if it's shipped from far away." In fact, they report that the average wine shipment adds over 3 million pounds of CO2 emissions into the air - that's like 994 round-trip flights from France to Napa!)
Here's specifically what to look for when shopping for organic or eco-friendly wine:
"USDA-certified organic" means that the wine was produced without herbicides and pesticides and with no added sulfites, preservatives that help wine maintain its color and taste but that can cause serious allergic reactions and headaches in susceptible people. (Sulfites occur naturally, so no wine is sulfite free.)
"Made from organically grown grapes" means grapes were grown without pesticides or chemicals; some sulfites may have been added as a preservative. If you're allergic, read the label carefully.
"Sustainable" may indicate the vineyard practices pesticide-free viticulture, using sheep to suppress weeds and owls to kill rodents. However, "sustainable" is not as meaningful as "organic" unless it is backed up by independent third-party certification.
"Biodynamic" practices rely on viticulture techniques that build healthy soil and keep the vineyard in tune with the cycles of the sun, moon, and planets. When certified by the Demeter Association, it's safe to assume the vineyard met standards for biodynamic production.
Whether you're having a party or just want to enjoy wine with dinner, these organic brands are worth a taste:
Benziger (biodynamic-California; shown in picture above)
Ca'del Solo (biodynamic-California)
Cullen (organic-Western Australia)
Four Gates (organic, kosher-California)
Frey Vineyards (organic-California)
Frog's Leap (organic-California)
Grgich Hills (biodynamic-California)
Santa Julia (organic-Argentina)
Sobon Estate (organic-California)
Yarden Chardonnay (organic, kosher-Golan Heights)
But don't forget to look locally first. All 50 states produce wine.
Want more options? Visit Trade Organic Wine.
Our guide to green party planning guide will help, too.