10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Biodynamic Wine

By Guest

Believe it or not, there are wines available that are better for us and for the earth. Besides organic wine, biodynamic wines offer options for drinkers concerned about the impact what they eat and drink has on the earth. Beyond organic, biodynamic wines are sustainable and promote healthy soil, ethical practices, and principles that leave the land enriched rather than overused. Get to know biodynamic wines and see if they are the right choice for you.

1. What’s The Difference Between Organic and Biodynamic?

Organic wines do not use any pesticides or other chemicals to grow the grapes or produce the wines - these wines do not have added sulfites. Biodynamic wines are organic but beyond pesticides the entire growing, harvesting and making process are sustainable - leaving little to no footprint on the area’s animals, people, communities and public health. If a wine is biodynamic it is organic; if a wine is organic it is not necessarily biodynamic.

2. What Makes Something Biodynamic?

Biodynamic farming adheres to the principles developed and shared by philosopher Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. Steiner believed that the earth was out of balance due to the rapid industrialization of farming, and that continued mass farming practices would deplete the earth’s ability to create healthy soil to yield healthy crops. The land used for growing crops is treated with preparations made from natural substances (manure, minerals, plants and herbs) that are either buried or sprayed on the land. The goal is to enrich the soil during growing and composting to keep it healthy and not devoid of nutrients, as can happen in traditional farming.

Read more about how food scraps can help a garden thrive

3. How Does Biodynamic Farming Work?

Using the biodynamic calendar, crops are planted and harvested during different times based on the part of the plant used: leaf and stem, flower, root or seed. Times are determined by the phase of the moon and its location in various constellations. Strict adherence to biodynamics includes eating or drinking the crop or product made with it during particular times based on the moon. For example, biodynamic wine should not, according to Steiner’s principals, be drunk during a full moon.

4. This Wine Was Made Using Biodynamic Grown Grapes, Does That Mean it’s Biodynamic Wine?

No. Semantics play a role in marketing wine and it would be easy to assume that the wine you’re holding is biodynamic. If it is, it will include that it has been certified by Demeter, a private certifier of biodynamic products. A wine made with biodynamic grapes does not mean the actual wine was produced using biodynamic practices. 

5. My Biodynamic Wine Looks Strange, Is Something Wrong With It?

No. The biodynamic process of making wine does not allow for clarifiers, so your wine might be more cloudy than what you’re used to. Also, no chemicals can be added to adjust color so the color you see might be different from that you’re used to. This is because the wine is completely natural and not engineered. The “off” color and cloudiness is similar to using other natural products, like recycled paper. It is never white, but rather a light beige or even gray, because of the fact that it is not bleached. It can take a little getting used to because we are so used to white products, but eventually we don’t notice it when we continue to use recycled or natural, unbleached products.

6. No Pesticides? No Fertilizers? How Can That Work?

Biodynamic farming uses preparations, numbered from 500-508 to prepare and fertilize the land used for farming. These are completely natural and rely on principles developed by Steiner to create balance between the physical and spiritual world.

7. What Are These Preparations? What Is Their Purpose?

Biodynamic uses two types of preparations: those for fertilizing and those for composting. They require combinations of natural substances (manure, herbs and flowers, minerals) and organic materials (cow horns, bladders, skulls) to be buried in the land or sprayed onto compost to help keep nutrients in the earth. Sprays are stirred to create opposite vortexes (clockwise and counterclockwise) to achieve balance.

8. Are Biodynamic Wines or Wine Made With Biodynamic Grapes Vegan?

These wines are not vegan because they use organic materials derived from animals in the process of making them. If you eat a vegan diet rather than adhere to a vegan lifestyle, biodynamic wines would work for you since there are no animal products or derivatives in them. If you adhere to a completely vegan lifestyle (i.e. you do not wear leather) biodynamic wines are not vegan.

9. Where are Biodynamic Wines Made?

Biodynamic wines are produced in all of the world’s major wine regions. Many biodynamic farms are located in Germany, where Steiner originally proposed the idea during a series of lectures.

Read more about the health benefits of wine

10. Where Can I Find Biodynamic Wines?

You can ask at your local wine shop if they sell biodynamic wines or visit the Demeter website for a comprehensive list of all wines certified as biodynamic.  Many restaurants and wine bars now carry biodynamic wines and note them on the wine list. They are usually sold by the bottle rather than by the glass but as they rise in popularity they will likely become available in smaller sizes (carafe, half bottle, glass).

If you are interested in learning more about biodynamic farming, products or wine there are many online resources and courses to help you understand more about the process and products. While scientists are still studying the impact biodynamic farming has on the soil over time, there are some definitive facts. The process is much less invasive to the soil, and while it will take years to see, the soil is being trained through the type of planting and the preparations. Certain invasive organisms are discouraged from taking up residence in the soil and the soil is richer because of the organic compounds used. While some of the practices may sound strange, it is a sustainable, earth-friendly, ethical mode of farming.

Have you tried biodynamic wines?  If so, which are your favorites? If not, will you try them now that you’ve learned more about them?

Written by Tim Edison.

Image: egrinnell

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By Guest| April 17, 2015
Categories:  Eat

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