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Organic Wine Is Badly Labeled but Often a Bargain

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Pop quiz: What's the one product on store shelves that decreases in price when it has a label marking it as organic? As most wine snobs know, the answer is organic wine. Next100 points us to a study (PDF) from researchers at the University of California claiming that wines with an eco-label sell for 20% less than similar vintage bottles. Oddly enough, organic wines without an eco-label cost 13% more than wines from the same year, grape variety, and appellation. So what do consumers have against organic wine?

The biggest problem, the researchers claim, is that most people don't know the difference between "wine made from organically grown grapes" and "organic wine." Organic wines have to be free of sulfite preservatives. Without sulfites, wine spoils more quickly, which causes the overall quality to go down. But wines made with organic grapes can contain sulfites--and they are often higher quality than similar wines with non-organic grapes. And biodynamically grown grapes? Many people don't even know what the word "biodynamic" means. The bias against eco-labeled wines is so strong that many wineries opt out of including any sort of organic label at all.

All of this indicates that the wine industry needs to figure out a more informative eco-labeling system if it wants to catch up to, say, the produce industry, where organic products command a premium. In the meantime, you all now know to search for wine made with organic grapes for a good deal.

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