People are willing to pay more for organic meats and produce. In fact, organic food sales reached a record high of $39 billion in 2014. Wine is a different story. Wine enthusiasts have been less willing to spend on organic or eco-friendly wines, but a new analysis of experts’ ratings suggests that there’s really no reason not to be drinking organic wine.
The study, published earlier this month in the American Journal of Wine Economics, analyzed 74,148 wines from 3,842 different wineries in California to determine the quality effect of eco-certified wines. Turns out, eco-certified wines score significantly higher on flavor than non-certified wines. So, if the quality of these wines is noticeably higher and the prices tend to be lower, why aren’t people buying it?
Consumers and wineries appear to associate organic wine with negative images. “Only one-third of the wineries that are certified put the label on the bottle, which is strange because certification is a costly process,” says Magali Delmas, an economist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and one of the authors of the study.
Delmas suggests that though these wines are higher quality than conventional wines, if there’s a label on it, it drives prices down below conventional wine. Nevertheless, wine producers are increasingly using environmentally friendly practices, such as organic grape-growing and biodynamics, even though they are not advertising that on their labels.
“There’s this disconnect between what people in the industry think and what the customer perceives,” Delmas says.
Eco-Friendly Wines? Wine not.
Many eco-certified wines use organically grown grapes, but because they include preservatives, they don’t produce purely organic wine. Vineyards can benefit from organic crops, however. The soil is richer, there’s a lack of many pesticides and more biodiversity. The best part about it is that consumers won’t encounter the quick souring issue associated with fully organic wine. It’s a win-win for everyone.
So, the next time you go shopping for your favorite wine, be adventurous and try something new – an eco-certified or organic wine. Or, bring a bottle in a reusable wine tote to your next dinner party and tell this story. After all, eco-certified wines are better for you, the environment, and your wallet.