Clearing the confusion and mystery around what makes a wine environmentally friendly and qualify as “green”

Over the past few decades we have had an explosion of what I like to call “green wines,” which, depending on the country where they are produced, may be labeled as organic, biodynamic, natural, vegan or all of the above. But which ones should we buy? Well, that depends entirely on what you are looking for when you buy a bottle of wine. Personally, my main requirement is taste, I want to enjoy wines that make my eyes go wide open because they taste amazing. My next criterion is value for money, however, that does not mean cheap, but rather that I get more wow for each buck I spend on a bottle.

Most people looking for green wines are looking for something on top of taste (and sometimes value because green wines do not need to be more expensive). So, what does all those terms mean?

First of all, almost all wines have added sulfites otherwise the wine would go bad within weeks, so forget about the ones made without sulfites because they would not survive the trip to Vietnam, and if they did they would not last long here. However, many of the wineries making green wines will tend to use much less sulfites and avoid most, if not all, of the chemicals.

So let’s start with organic wines, which are made from fruit and processes where chemicals have not been used unless there is no chemical alternative (as is the case with the sulfites). Organic wines nowadays are able to maintain their good flavor and they don’t use almost any chemicals, hence forget about headaches or allergies.

Biodynamic wines usually follow everything that organic wines do, plus they use more natural ways to make wine, like using gravity for pressing rather than mechanical pressing (resulting in much nicer wines). They follow the cycles of the moon for planting and harvesting and that, in theory, result in better growth and  better fruit.

Vegan wines can also additionally be labeled organic but not always. Vegan wines are processed with no animal products during the wine production. So, why aren’t all wines vegan? That’s because during the wine making process it is usually filtered and the most common practice for filtering is the use of eggs. Also, some wineries use animal fats in wine production, yuck!

Finally, are “natural wines” mostly from France? This is a rather gray area because as there is no definition or regulation of what “natural” really means. It seems to be the approach of some wineries that don’t want to follow the strict regulations for organic certification, but still want to appear as healthy, so this is a hit and miss labeling.

So, here is your single page guide to green wines: If you are vegan, go for certified wines.