If you’re like many wine lovers (including us!), you enjoy indulging in a great meal with a velvety Merlot or unwinding from a long day with a chilled glass of Chardonnay. And when those wines are produced by vineyards who follow biodiverse, organic practices, it really does taste even better! But like many, you probably also wonder about organic wine shelf life. Let’s clear up the mystery… so we can get to the wine!
Organic Wine Shelf Life
To be labeled as “organic” wine in the US, there must be no added sulfites, and the amount of naturally occuring sulfites must be less than 10 ppm. In the EU, though, there is an acceptable level of sulfites that may be introduced and, in total, they may not exceed 100 ppm. This is an important distinction, as we will see. (By the way, conventional wine has sulfites in amounts of about 350 ppm.)
Conventional winemakers add sulfites in order to deter the growth of bacteria. Organic winemakers use advanced filtering processes during production to reduce “schmutz” (not the technical term, but you get the idea). However, bacteria can still grow. This is not harmful to you when you open a bottle, but it does tend to limit organic wine shelf life – at least in the US. The USDA considers US-organic wines as “buy now, enjoy now” products. They may last just three to six months unopened.
There is another option: you can look for wines that are labeled “Made with Organic Grapes,” as is the case with Natura organic wine, or that are EU organic wines. The grapes must be farmed organically so you don’t have to worry about the introduction of toxic pesticides and other chemicals. These winemakers, however, are allowed to add sulfur – but only a limited amount.
It’s enough! These wines have a much greater shelf life. With ideal conditions, reds are perfect and delicious for five years and whites for three years. In normal conditions, this is about three and two years respectively. For those of us without a wine cellar, keep the wine at a stable temperature below room 70 degrees F and away from sunlight. If you can, store the bottles on their sides.
Now when you pop open that bottle, how long will wine from organically grown grapes stay fresh and delicious? Just as long as conventional wines. Exposure to oxygen changes the taste within 24 hours. You can pick up a wine preserving tool online or at your favorite home goods store, if you want to keep it fresh for longer.
But we suggest buying a bottle (or two) of your favorite Natura organic wine and enjoying with friends and family now!