Why Natural Wine with Lower Preservatives is Better

Did you know that over 70% of wine sold in Australia is sold through the big supermarket chains? Did you know that they mass produce a lot of the wine in their stores under their own banner and brand the wine with a label that doesn’t necessarily come from a winery? These labels are created to make you feel you are buying wine from a winery.

When we speak about mass production with any type of food, what normally would come to mind? For me it’s things like a production line, the over use of preservatives and squeezing down farmers in order to line the pockets of big business. This is no different in the wine industry. In fact, from our research we have found it is quite alarming how much wine is sold and made by supermarkets in Australia. In fact, the difference in the winemaking process between mass produced and handcrafted makes all the difference when it comes to taste and health benefits.

It’s funny how these days we speak about wine being made in a natural way, organic or low preservative. Wine is still and has been made using these natural processes for hundreds of years in Europe. Why have we deviated so much, to be now looking at these more natural processes as being new? Well let’s break this down…

How grapes are grown for mass produced wine….

Grapes that are mass produced are often farmed in large scale vineyards in warmer climate areas. The reason for this is the grapes are ripened quicker which means less time on the vine and less flavour. Pesticides and herbicides are used to also keep insects, mould and diseases away from the grapes. The vines are worked on using equipment, and mechanical pickers. When grapes are picked mechanically, it can be quite a violent shake up for the grapes. Imagine dropping a piece of fruit a couple of times on the ground, what happens? It becomes bruised and the fruit can often taste different. So, this is why the best wine is hand-picked and manually looked after. The grapes are treated with a high level of respect because ultimately the better the grapes the better the wine.

Why are preservatives added to wine?

Preservatives such as sulphur salts or sulphur dioxide are added to wine during the winemaking process to protect the wine against oxidisation and bacteria. During mass production of wine, the preservatives are added to avoid having to spend time working on the juice to create the wine. It’s a way of guaranteeing a large quantity of wine will be safe, but it also locks the characters of the wine at an early age, meaning the wine doesn’t have time to develop and form its natural self. Winemakers at boutique wineries spend a lot of time understanding their wine. They taste and check the wine under microscope to ensure the wine is following its natural process with no interference from bacteria. This means your boutique wine has character and is allowed to develop naturally. It can change and evolve over time and not be locked down with preservatives.

What can preservatives do to us….

Sulphur can have nasty effects on you depending on your tolerance level. It can cause asthmatic problems, nausea, hives, respiratory contraction, abdominal pain, skin inflammation, wheezing, dizziness and, anaphylactic shock in extreme cases. Even if you don’t get any of these symptoms or some of them, it’s not good for the human body to be exposed to large amounts of sulphur. Let me be clear, all wine has some level of sulphur because of the natural fermentation process, however the difference between a low natural amount and a large added amount used during mass production is huge. And to be honest in my opinion, I could always tell the next day if I had consumed wine that had a large quantity of preservatives.

Now you understand the difference it is your choice and here is what you can do when selecting wine.

Check the label and find out who makes the wine. Google the name of the company and if it’s a winery, they will more than likely have a website of their own. If you can’t find the company or brand on google, more or often that not it will be a mass-produced wine made by one of the supermarkets. Find some wineries you like and find out where you can buy their wine. Learn their story. Their website is always a good place to start, or if they have a cellar door, get out and visit them and talk to the winemaker or viticulturist.

Looking for “Certified Organic” stamps on the wine can often make this process easier. If the wine is certified organic, it means they have had to keep to a standard of growing and winemaking. The great thing is though, certified organic wine is not the only wine that is low preservative. Check with your winery or winemaker and they will tell you the level of preservative or how the wine has been made. You know why?? Because they made it from start to finish. Try asking your local production line or machine how much preservative they added to their wines…

The wine you buy from boutique wineries is always handcrafted and this will mean minimal intervention. If the wine if made right, it will stand on its own with very minimal preservatives needed. This means less allergies if you react to sulphates and a better morning the next day. The more I have learnt about this, the more I have wanted to share. Because really who wants mass produced wine and food with added preservatives, I would rather have a beer.