Your unfiltered guide to wine terminology for Organic Wine, Natural Wine, Biodynamic and ‘Clean’ Wines.

Wine has always been shrouded in the mystery of code, a language reserved for the knowing, and yet few products are more humble or universally appreciated. Once you get past the technical, foreign, and scientific language that surrounds wine, you have to hurdle the lingo that has been appropriated by clever marketers, words designed to confuse and obfuscate. Wine is a marketer’s dream. The industry is so unregulated that producers can put almost anything in their wines which allows them to describe their wines with considerable artistic license. How can consumers  know what they are buying? What do terms like organic, biodynamic, minimal intervention, and clean crafted really mean? Hopefully after reading this blog, you’ll understand some important differences. And you’ll appreciate how Signal 7 distinguishes itself from other winemakers who would make similar claims.  

organic grapes for wine

A distinction with a difference: Organic Grapes vs Organic Wine

Let’s come to a general understanding of terms. The most often used words to describe our category of wines are: organic, natural, and clean. To understand what’s in your glass, you have to go back to the ground and the grapes. We use only 100 percent certified organic grapes. What makes them certified? They are approved by independent, unbiased, third-party government approved agencies. 

The USDA makes a distinction between “organic wine” and wines “made with organic grapes”. Signal 7 makes the latter. The difference lies solely in the quantity of sulfites added to the wine. No sulfites may be added to organic wine although some that occur naturally are allowed. We add only enough sulfites to control fermentation so the wine remains delicious. 

Biology with Belief: Organic Wines vs Biodynamic Wines

There is a great deal of confusing and overlapping but not interchangeable language in the world of agriculture and winemaking. One area of confusion surrounds the difference between organic wines versus biodynamic wines. They are often grouped together as they share similar organic practices. They both avoid pesticides and depend on compost, however biodynamic wines may contain up to 100ppm of sulfites. The USDA certifies organic wines but they don’t regulate biodynamic wines. Biodynamic farming is an enhanced or alternative method of organic farming, one that uses traditional farming techniques and a prescribed list of biological or natural “preparations” that are dictated by a specific astronomical calendar. There is a metaphysical component to biodynamic farming as well.

How Clean is Clean (Wine)?

The problem with ‘clean’ being applied to wine is that it’s undefined, unregulated and impossible to standardize – it means whatever the winemaker wants it to mean. Clean is a popular buzzword in the wine world these days. The connotations are too good to resist. Clean wines are made without added sugars, may contain  organic ingredients, and have fewer sulfites, but there are no regulations or certifications to differentiate them from any other bottle on the shelf.  Furthermore, any of the potentially triggering (headache causing) compounds found in regular wine can be present in clean wine, too.

Signal 7 Wines line up

What Makes Signal 7 Wine Naturally Delicious?

We rely on the best practices of organic and biodynamic farming. It all starts in the vineyard. Remember, what gets sprayed on the vines or added to the vat, winds up in your glass. In wine making, grapes are not washed before processing as that would wash away the good with the bad. With organic farming, there’s only the good product since the bad – synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and other additives – are never introduced. Then we rely on the skills of our winemakers who share our philosophy of minimal intervention in order to let the brilliance of the grape shine through. There’s no mystery to our recipe. Hopefully, you’re more familiar now with some of these terms and can decipher what they mean and don’t mean.

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