What's the difference between Organic Wine, Natural Wine, and Biodynamic Wine

What's the difference between Organic Wine, Natural Wine, and Biodynamic Wine

The world of wine can be daunting -- especially when you start diving into the nuances of organic and natural wine. We first learned about natural and organic wine after joining a friend's book club- the rules were to pick a book you love when it's your turn to host and bring a bottle of natural or organic wine to each book club meeting. I remember thinking, what is natural wine? Isn't all wine natural because it's derived from grapes? As you can imagine, the book club meetings started with a brief book discussion and ended with a lot of talk about the fantastic and sometimes funky wines we were trying. 


What makes wine organic? 

Sometimes, the simplest questions don't have the simplest answers. The truth is it depends. Like with beauty and food products, there isn't one organic rule for wine across all countries. In fact - not every country even has guidelines for what is organic. So, an organic label in Spain may have different rules than one in the U.S. or U.K. Generally, organic wines use organic grapes.

The U.S. has the strictest guidelines for organic wine. So, a wine can be considered organic in the U.K., but that exact wine cannot be labeled organic in the U.S. 


What is natural wine and how is it different from organic wine?

So, there is no governing body or official certification for natural wine like organic wine. But there are principles natural winemakers follow - to start, winemakers handpick their grapes and use "native yeast" to ferment them. Native yeast is the particles from the air that land on the grapes. Like organic wine, natural wine limits the use of fertilizers and products for killing bugs/stopping fungus. The concept is to minimize the amount of intervention with the grapes and natural process. One essential thing to know about natural wine is that many flavors or additives winemakers may add to preserve the wine, make it look clearer, or adjust the taste are not added in natural wines. 


Why are organic and natural wines more expensive than some conventionally produced wines? 

Long story short - organic wine often costs more to produce than conventional wine. Returning to the food example from earlier, think about a recent trip to the grocery store. Isn't it often the case that organic produce is smaller and more expensive than its conventional counterparts? I always think of lemons - conventional lemons are often much larger than organic ones. It's the same story with grapes for producing wine. The amazing technology used in conventional production allows winemakers to produce large volumes of grapes. In organic vineyards, there are limitations on fertilizers, products that can be used to kill bugs, and products that stop fungus, which often leads to lower quantities of grapes than you get from conventional growing practices. Fewer grapes + more costs to buy the products to keep the organic grape vines healthy result in more expensive wines. 


Now, not to get too technical, but you should be aware of another category related to natural and organic wines: Biodynamic Wine. 

Biodynamic wine is named after the approach to growing grapes. There is an international governing body for biodynamic wine, which is consistent across all countries and regions. Biodynamic wine growers use many of the same practices as organic and natural wine growers. They avoid using pesticides to kill bugs and use natural fertilizers. One crucial difference is that biodynamic wine is grown using a set calendar for pruning, harvesting grapes, etc. 


Are you ready to have your mind blown? 

Wine can be organic, natural, and biodynamic as long as all the criteria are met.