Apr 16, 2014

Why Should you Buy Organic Spirits, Wine, and Beer?


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With warmer weather around the corner, (it has to come eventually right?),  I've been starting to play around with making cocktails.  I just learned how to make grenadine, and just recently tried some organic wine and Limoncello samples for my first ever product review.


What is Different With Organic Beer, Wine, and Spirits?

Doing this product review had me wondering what is different with organic spirits, wine, and beer?  I know that there are no pesticides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, or GMOs used in the crop it's made with, but are there other benefits? Do organic alcoholic beverages contain sulfites?  Since I've never looked into this subject before I usually do not buy organic alcohol, just a bottle of wine here and there.  Doing my research for this post I learned that organic wine has less sulfites than most conventional wine, and organic beer, wine and spirits have less pesticides and additives than there conventional counter parts. 
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Sulfites In Wine
So what are sulfites anyways? Sulfites is a term for sulfur dioxide (SO2). Sulfites are a preservative and widely used in winemaking (as well as cheese, dried fruits, and many other food products), because of its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Sulfites are necessary in maintaining a wine’s freshness while ageing.  It has been used in wine as far back as the Egyptians and wines today contain far less then ever before.

According to The Kitchen, "Consumption of sulfites is generally harmless, unless you suffer from severe asthma or do not have the particular enzymes necessary to break down sulfites in your body. The amount of sulfites that a wine can contain is highly regulated around the world. Any wine containing more than 10 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur dioxide must affix to the label ‘contains sulfites’." 

I found that it's impossible to have sulfite free alcohol, because it's created naturally in the wine making process. Organic wine does not have any added sulfites, but does have naturally occuring sulfites.  So basically if your worried about sulfites knowing it's organic means it at least doesn't have any added.  You also can look at wine bottle labels to see if it says contains sulfites, if it does not have that label it has less than 10 ppm (parts per million) of sulfites which is pretty low.  If it does have that label it could contain anywhere from 11 ppm-400ppm.

Pesticides and Fungicides in Wine

Since grapes are on the dirty dozen list (produce tested after being washed to have the most pesticides, fungicides, and insecticides on them), it makes sense to buy organic wine for this reason alone.  Also according to Organic Wine Company table grapes actually have less pesticides then those used to make wine.
Did you know?
Conventionally grown grapes are one of The Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" - produce that has the highest content of pesticide residues? Unfortunately, wine grapes receive more pesticides than table grapes. According to the USDA Pesticide Data Program there are up to 34 different kinds of pesticide residues found on conventionally grown grapes. Of these:
  • 4 are known or probable carcinogens
  • 17 are suspected hormone disrupters
  • 10 are neurotoxins
  • 6 are developmental or reproductive toxins
  • 14 are implicated in the deaths of honeybees
- See more at: http://theorganicwinecompany.com/owc/pages/learn.shtml#q2
Did you know?
Conventionally grown grapes are one of The Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" - produce that has the highest content of pesticide residues? Unfortunately, wine grapes receive more pesticides than table grapes. According to the USDA Pesticide Data Program there are up to 34 different kinds of pesticide residues found on conventionally grown grapes. Of these:
  • 4 are known or probable carcinogens
  • 17 are suspected hormone disrupters
  • 10 are neurotoxins
  • 6 are developmental or reproductive toxins
  • 14 are implicated in the deaths of honeybees
- See more at: http://theorganicwinecompany.com/owc/pages/learn.shtml#q2
Did you know?
Conventionally grown grapes are one of The Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" - produce that has the highest content of pesticide residues? Unfortunately, wine grapes receive more pesticides than table grapes. According to the USDA Pesticide Data Program there are up to 34 different kinds of pesticide residues found on conventionally grown grapes. Of these:
  • 4 are known or probable carcinogens
  • 17 are suspected hormone disrupters
  • 10 are neurotoxins
  • 6 are developmental or reproductive toxins
  • 14 are implicated in the deaths of honeybees
- See more at: http://theorganicwinecompany.com/owc/pages/learn.shtml#q2

Organic Eppa Supra Fruta Sangria Wine

I get offers all the time to do product reviews but often it's not a good fit for this blog and nothing I myself would be interested in purchasing.  For example, I was recently approached by a PR company to do a product review for a flavour drink mix made of stevia with vitamins and natural dyes.  Sounds good right?  Well I almost told them that I would but I did some digging and found that it uses questionable preservatives one in particular that's suppose to be worse when mixed with vitamin E (which is one of the vitamins added).  I also assumed that it's likely that the vitamins are synthetically derived.  I did not ask the company however because I was already turned off of the product any-ways.   So long story short I always do my homework on products and would never review anything I wouldn't try myself.

Eppa Sangria is crafted in northern California at the foothills of Duncan Peak in Mendocino County. She is well priced at $11.99 per bottle, making it a luxury that everyone can enjoy. Not only is Eppa Supra Fruta Sangria organic, but it also has twice  the antioxidants of a typical glass of wine.  This is due to the fact that it is a blend or organic wine and organic fruit juices high in antioxidants.  I tried the Eppa Red which had acai, pomegranate, blueberry, and blood orange juices.  It has a lower alcohol content at 8.5%, which I like since when I drink I don't drink to get drunk.




Taste
Eppa Red is made from Mendocino Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes and has sweet citrus scents of orange, lemon, and lime and dark berry flavors that mingle with pomegranate, orange, and soft red wine notes.  In my opinion it does not taste like a sangria, since sangria is basically red wine, brandy, and simple syrup with oranges, lemons, and limes.  Rather it is a new unique drink that can hold it's own.  Total side note, thinking of sangria has caused  the song "Boats and Hoes" from the movie Step Brothers to play in my head.  Let's just say they mention Sangria in the song but I won't publish the lyrics since it's a bit X rated....

The Verdict
I found Eppa Red to be a great introductory wine for someone who is not a huge wine fan or never had much before.  I say this due to the fact that it's a low alcohol content wine mixed with juice, so the alcohol isn't too overpowering and who doesn't like juice?  It also has a screw cap so it's less intimidating to open.  This would also be great to serve at parties because it's like a pre made drink.  No need for a bar tender!  I also think this would be great for anyone  who likes to drink red wine for it's health benefits, since the super juices in it make it even healthier.  Just make sure to pace yourself remember too much sugar and alcohol isn't good for your health either.  I suggest having a glass only with a meal and if you don't have enough people to share the bottle with use a vacuum seal and place it in your fridge for tomorrow.  Another ideal is too add seltzer water to it in order to cut down on some of the sugar and alcohol. 

My husband liked it and he's not a huge wine fan.  He'll drink wine if it's there but it's not something he would buy or order himself.  I plan to pick some up myself.  Luckily it looks like a few stores within 5 miles of me have it so it's likely to be in a store near you.  Just click here to see where it's closest to you in stores. 

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Additives In Beer
I'm not a huge beer drinker in fact until this year (I couldn't resit the Burger N Brew deal at Wise Acres I hadn't drank beer in over a decade if not longer. Turns out that might have been a good thing.  Food Babe did a story on all the fun stuff, (GMOs, food dyes, chemicals, high fructose corn syrup, and even dried fish bladder), added to beer buy the big companies that might make you not want to enjoy a cold one for awhile (unless it's organic).  Food Babe recommends drinking organic beers, German beers (they are not allowed to have additives), and locally owned craft beers.   Luckily here in MN due to new laws that make it cheaper to start a brewery (in terms of city fees), there have been a ton of new brewers popping up everywhere.  So hop on in to your local brewer for a tasting and ask them about their ingredients. 

An anomaly just a few years ago, organic liquor is coming into its own. Are there any brands you've tried that you've particularly enjoyed?  I'd love to hear it!


Reviewer’s Note: Samples of the products discussed here were provided to me for reviewing purposes at no cost, but I have not been paid in any other way for this review.

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