Foray into the World of Organic Wines

Last week was our first foray into organic wines.  We may have tried some before with friends or out at a nice restaurant, but this was definitely the first time we went out to specifically buy an organic wine.  To be clear, we enjoy a nice glass of wine occasionally, but are far from wine connoisseurs.  We generally prefer reds like Shiraz or Merlot, and also love a good Riesling, but I digress.  Back to the start of our organic wine adventure, or as I should probably call it “wine made from organically grown grapes.”  The background behind the official terminology is nicely explained by Pure Natural Diva in her article about Organic Wine & Wine Making Basics which happened to be posted as we were halfway through our first “bottle.”  Among other things they explain the difference between “organic wine” and “wine made from organically grown grapes.”

Alicia stumbled upon a wine tasting at a liquor store and was told about a new brand of organic wine called yellow+blue,  which interestingly enough, the store did not carry.  The sommelier told her about this new wine company that was shipping the wine in kegs, and then bottling here in the US, to reduce the embodied energy and lower the carbon footprint.  This intrigued us because they were taking into account more than just the production of the wine, but also the transportation.  With their method they were able to reduce the carbon footprint of the wine by 46%, but they didn’t stop there.

Once the wine arrives in the US for distribution, they also bottle it into aseptic packaging (juice box packaging).  I know what you are thinking, but this isn’t your ordinary box around a bag that has a bad rap.  Instead it is a Tetra Pak which is about the size of a bottle of wine, it fits in the same space, but holds a third more wine and weighs significantly less.  A case of wine in traditional bottles weighs 40 lbs and holds 9 liters of wine, where a case of yellow+blue wine in tetra paks weighs 26 lbs and holds 12 liters of wine.  That is an improvement of 50% by weight of wine to 93% wine according to yellow+blue.  Which makes a significant difference in the carbon used to transport it and in manufacturing and waste products.

All of this sounded pretty good to us, but how does the wine actually taste and is it going to break the bank? So recently, I took a walk during my lunch break to the Harvest Coop, which is listed on the yellow+blue site as one of our local retailers that carriers their wine.   I eventually found the yellow+blue selection, but could not find a Merlot or Shiraz (our preferred varietals) to try.  Turns out they do not make those varieties of wine.  I settled on the 2008 Malbec which sounded like we’d like it.  At $11.50 for the bottle, it was towards the upper end of what we’d buy for a table wine, but realizing that this is for a full liter, and not a typical 750ml bottle, it is definitely competitively priced with decent table wines.  I also picked up some yummy Taza Chocolates (local Mexican stone ground chocolate) as a treat.  The chocolate went quickly, but we held onto the wine until an appropriate evening.  With 3 kids and not enough sleep, whine is more common in our house with dinner than wine.

We finally cracked the seal, since it doesn’t have a cork, last week to enjoy with a homecooked Italian dinner.  We enjoyed it.  While not the style we normally drink, it was delicious and went well with the meal. The yellow+blue does contain Sulfites, which I learned is a normal part of the wine making process and is added to most wine to help it keep a little longer once it has been opened.  Our bottle lasted 3 days without any problems.  A liter of wine is a lot for two tired parents to drink in a single night, especially on a school/work night.  On one of the other evenings, we had the wine with cheese and crackers (well, I had all the cheese and Alicia had only crackers), and it went well.

So the next time you are looking for a bottle of wine, consider purchasing a more sustainable product, such as a pak of yellow+blue (Tetra Pak).  Let us know what organic wines you have tried and what you think of them.

Happy Greening!

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  1. following from mbc, i love wine so i will have to try some. please come by we are and aunt & neice team also writing about all things natural.

  2. Dina – Let us know what you think. We’ll check out your site.

  3. I’m pretty sure they also sell that at Urban Grape in Chestnut Hill. Haven’t tasted it yet, but hope to someday. Organic wines are great (though sometimes confusing) but bio-dynamic is even better!

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