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The Green Life: How to Pick an Eco-Friendly Wine for Valentine's Day

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February 07, 2011

How to Pick an Eco-Friendly Wine for Valentine's Day

Wine grapes Just in time for next Monday, here's some information that'll help you select a celebratory bottle to impress an eco-minded date:

Organic and biodynamic wines have gotten quite popular in many of the world’s winemaking regions. And though oenophiles love to argue over the gustatory merits of wines produced sustainably, green vino has been consistently increasing its market share. However, finding it at the supermarket can be tricky; the National Organic Standards Board's shunning of preservatives extends to sulfites (natural byproducts of fermentation) and yeasts, making it nearly impossible for winemakers to sell anything that can be fully certified as organic. You’re more likely to see the phrase “Made with organically grown grapes” on a bottle's label than the USDA organic seal.

Biodynamic agriculture has a longer history in Europe than in the U.S. However, it's getting more known here as an alternative to pursuing organic certification, since it's less regulated and often achieves similar environmental objectives: using cover crops, better pest-management systems, and natural fertilizers. GMOs are strictly prohibited. Wineries that call themselves biodynamic run the gamut from full-on Rudolph Steiner protégés to part-time dabblers, but it’s a good bet that all of them are making strides in a more responsible direction. 

Though it might be more work than just snagging the first bottle you see, supporting vineyards that diverge from the mainstream is worth the time; their efforts reduce environmental ills and protect us from some of our more questionable technological “advances.”

For links to reviews of sustainably produced wines, check out the recommendations from Forbes, EcoSalon, the Organic Wine Review. And here's a list of biodynamic producers by region.

--Zoë J. Sheldon

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