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What’s the difference between natural, organic, and biodynamic wines?

You know our generation is becoming smarter when we question everything now. With wines, it’s more than just the regular questions of whether we want red or white to have tonight. Now, we have a broader range of choices spanning natural, organic, and biodynamic wines.

In that same vein, did you know that all three variants are not the same? Although they sound like synonyms of each other, they’re actually pretty different. Previously we covered vegan wines, but now it’s time to break down the differences between natural, organic, and biodynamic wines. After all, the more you know, the better.

biodynamic wines
More people are becoming conscious of the foods they are ingesting, and these include wines. (Image credit: Unsplash/ Tina Dawson)

Natural wine is currently the new darling of the healthy eating world – which is, essentially, everyone. What most people aren’t aware of is that while it’s trendy, the process of making natural wines is actually the first and oldest methods.

Generally, natural wines contain no chemical additives, from growing the fruit all the way to the fermentation, blending, and bottling process. Because there aren’t any chemicals involved in altering the taste of natural wines, you might not get the same pleasurable flavour and mouthfeel like you would in regular wines. However, this is actually a welcome byproduct of creating natural wines.

Regular wine, on the other hand, tends to contain more chemicals and additives to alter the liquid, such as genetically-modified yeast strains to correct the colour, flavour, and even mouthfeel of the wine.

However, there’s a caveat to natural wines – there are no strict regulations involved in natural winemaking, which mean that every natural winemaker out there will have their own idea on the processes that makes a natural wine, natural. Your best bet is VinNatur, an established organisation that helps define and regulate brands who want to venture into making natural wine.

biodynamic wines
Despite being the most popular, natural wines are not strictly regulated. (Image credit: Pexels/ Florent B.)

You might already be able to guess from its name that organic wines mean that it uses grapes that were grown organically. No synthetic interventions have been used – that includes pesticides, synthetic fertilisers, herbicides, and the like – in the process of ensuring a good crop yield. Instead, organic fertilisers and crop rotation are used to ensure that the yield remains great.

Unlike natural wine, organic wines might contain a little chemical – sulfites, to be exact. They’re naturally-occurring and a byproduct of alcohol fermentation. However, winemakers for regular wines might add more sulfites to the process to ensure the wines will have a longer lifespan.

Most organic winemakers won’t add any additional sulfites to it, but the only drawback is that you can’t store your wine for as long – not that it’s a problem. Do note that some bottles originating from Europe and Canada might have small amounts of additional sulfites. Regulations there mention that as long as the sulfites don’t exceed 100 parts per million (ppm) and 150ppm for red and white wines respectively.

Another important thing to pay attention to is the labels on organic wines. Some wines may be made with organic grapes, but that doesn’t necessarily make them organic wines. Should the winemaker decide to add any additives into it, the label usually reads as “made from organic grapes” instead.

One thing great about organic wines, however, is that it is regulated. Wines with the organic label mean that it has been certified by a licensed third-party organisation. The entire process, from the growing to the processing has been done according to regulated standards.

biodynamic wines
Biodynamic wines are more than just chemical-free grapes. The process looks at the entire vineyard as a sustainable ecosystem. (Image credit: Unsplash/ Tim Mossholder)

Biodynamic wines are similar to organic wines, except they’ve gone several steps further and created a whole fertile ecosystem around the vineyard. Essentially, biodynamic wines begin from the soil the grapes grow in. Like organic wines, no synthetic intervention is used to create the perfect yield for grapes.

The vineyard itself is a biodynamic farm – self-sustainable by way of interactions in the bigger picture of an ecosystem between flora and fauna. Everything is determined from a strict calendar, from planting to harvesting. This special calendar takes into account lunar cycles as well as the position of the sun and planets, so everything has gone through meticulous care and attention to detail.

Biodynamic wines are also regulated – by the Demeter Association – so you can rest assured that biodynamic wines are as clean as it gets.

What’s the difference between natural, organic, and biodynamic wines?

PohNee Chin

Editor, Kuala Lumpur

Poh Nee is the editor and writes about travel and drinks. When she's not living out her holiday dreams via Google Earth and sipping on an Old Fashioned down at the local bars, you can find her snug at home bingeing on Netflix and mystery fiction.

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