The holidays are often celebrated by enjoying your favorite alcoholic beverage and for many of us, that is wine. However, many supermarket wines contain chemicals, artificial additives, pesticides, high levels of sulfites, and high levels of sugar.
Below are the types of wine that offer a healthier alternative and their various health benefits:
In a time where living sustainably is increasing in popularity, it is becoming easier to find healthier options for every kind of food or beverage. A recent trend in the green living space is biodynamic wine. The official definition of biodynamic farming according to the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association is “a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture, gardens, food production and nutrition.” Therefore, biodynamic wine is made in a way that respects the ecosystem it is cultivated in. Natural materials, soils, and composts are used to sustain the vineyard. The process of making biodynamic wines avoids any chemical fertilizers or pesticides and a range of animals from ducks to horses to sheep live on the soil and fertilize it, creating a rich, fertile environment for the vines to grow in.
This approach that aims to leave the earth healthier after cultivation than when the process started, also has potential benefits for those who consume biodynamic wine.
Health Benefits of Biodynamic Wines
The benefits of biodynamic wines include:
- Aids in anti-aging as it supports cell longevity due to the fact it contains resveratrol and antioxidants
- Can help fight cancer, obesity, and diabetes
- Reduces the risk of blood clots and lowers bad cholesterol
- May lessen the risk of heart disease as it contains procyanidins
The definition of biodynamic winemaking does not change between countries, however, organic wine has several different categorizations. In the U.S., organic wines are more difficult to define as they fall into two categories: wines that are organic, and wines that are made with organically grown grapes.
Organic wines certified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have strict regulations. Like biodynamic wines, the grapes are grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, and all ingredients going into these wines, which includes yeast, must be certified as organic. Sulfites are also not allowed in these wines unless they are naturally occurring. Any wine that passes these regulations may display the USDA organic seal.
“Made with organically grown grapes” the wine is made entirely from certified organic grapes and pesticides or synthetic fertilizers are not permitted in the process. However, additional ingredients used in the winemaking process do not need to be organic, separating these wines from those that are USDA approved. Moreover, “Made with organically grown grapes” wines must be produced and bottled in an organic facility, and sulfites must be limited to 100 parts per million or less.
Health Benefits of Organic Wines
The health benefits of organic wines are similar to those of the biodynamic group. In general, because organic wines are free of residual traces of vineyard additives such as chemical-laced pesticides and herbicides, they are made from grapes with heartier skins and higher concentrations of resveratrol, antioxidants, and procyanidins.
Certified organic wines also have less sugar on average and don’t contain potentially harmful cellar additives such as flavoring agents. These additives plus higher sugar levels are what typically lead to headaches. So, going organic may help prevent or ease that future hangover headache.
The category of natural wines is meant to define wines that have gone through the bare minimum in terms of chemical or winemaker intervention. The commonly agreed definition of low-intervention or natural wine is one that is fermented spontaneously with native yeast. These wines are largely unaltered and contain only trace amounts of added sulfites.
Natural wines are not filtered or fined, which means they often contain particulates or appear cloudy. To get rid of the presence of the dissolved solids, additional products like collagen and egg whites would need to be used, which are not commonly accepted for use in natural wines.
Natural wines can be certified organic if the grape growing adheres to organic standards. Natural wines can also be biodynamic so long as the winemaker employs biodynamic practices such as composting. Because producing organic wine is more of a regulatory process, many winemakers choose to produce natural wine and forego the USDA approval.
Health Benefits of Natural Wines
Because natural wine undergoes little processing, it sets itself apart when considering health benefits as it contains a multitude of wild yeasts and gut-healthy bacteria that help support the gut microbiome. Learn more about your gut microbiome and how to support it here.