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Organic wine really does taste better, study of 74,000 bottles shows


Organic wine has divided experts for decades, with some claiming the natural process damages taste while others argue grapes contain so many natural pesticides that it makes a mockery of the label.

But a new study shows it really is worth going natural.

Researchers from the University of California trawled through the expert reviews for more than 74, 000 wines which appeared in the three of the world’s best wine-rating magazines.

They discovered that organic wines – which are labelled as ‘ecocertified’ in the US – scored an average of 4.1 points higher than their non-organic counterparts, our of a score of 100.

The academics speculate that adopting organic practices and banishing pesticides allows microbes in the soil to flourish, which enhances the flavour of grapes and give a truer representation of the ‘terroir’ or the natural environment of the vine.

Growing grapes without fertilisers also reduces yield, which may improve quality because the vine needs to ripen a smaller amount of fruit, and so the juice becomes more concentrated, and tastier.


“Littler consensus exists as to whether ecocertified wines are associated with worse, similar or better quality than their traditional counterparts,” said lead author Professor Magali Delmas, of the UCLA Institute of the Environment.

“Our results indicated that the adoption of wine ecocertification has a significant and positive effect on wine ratings.

“The results are interesting because they contradict a general sentiment that ecolabeled wines are of lower quality.”

To determine the quality of organic, versus non-organic wines, the team studied 74,148 wines from California, which were of vintages between 1998 and 2004, from 3,482 vineyards.

They looked at reviews from the three respected publications; the Wine Advocate, Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator, which perform blind tastings and mark wines on a 100 point scale. Wines which score 90 or more are rated ‘superb’ or ‘outstanding’, with anything below 59 deemed ‘undrinkable.’

The study looked at more than 30 grape varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Semillon and Zinfandel.


The researchers found that organic wines gained significantly higher scores which sometimes pushed them into higher categories.

Susy Atkins, the wine columnist for the Sunday Telegraph’s Stella magazine said that drinkers should consider looking out for the organic label.

“There will always be good and bad organic wines, but generally it implies good use of the land and a viticulturist who really cares about their vines,” she said.

“The problem can be that it often pushes the price up because organic growing is quite labour intensive.

“But it is very good for the land. You visit an organic vineyard and there are insects flying around, and birds singing and it feels like an entirely different experience.”

The study, which was published in the Journal of Wine Economics,comes amid several recent reviews which suggest organic food is neither tastier nor more nutritious than traditionally farmed produce.

In 2012 Stanford University’s Centre for Health Policy did the biggest comparison of organic and conventional foods and found no robust evidence for organics being healthier.


By: Sarah Knapton

***Grabbed from: