I’ve been around wine for my entire life – especially when I lived in Sonoma County. All my family members enjoyed indulging. Wine is so integrated into the culture of Sonoma County that Sonoma State housing even has names such as “Cabernet” and “Sauvignon.” Suffice to say, wine was very popular throughout my time there.
That’s why, when I heard about “clean wine,” I was super curious. I’d never heard the term before, and it made me wonder if the wine I had wasn’t clean. And, if it wasn’t, was that a bad thing? I dove down the rabbit hole to find the truth.
What Is Clean Wine?
Clean wine is just that – clean. It’s made from organic grapes without pesticides; there are no additives, including sweeteners and concentrates; and it’s vegan. Basically – you’re getting exactly what you think you’ve been drinking.
Some companies go a step further. Scout & Cellar, which sells clean wine, has its wine tested right before bottling to ensure that each wine is clean and tastes the same. They call this their “Clean-Crafted Commitment.”
The new trend uses buzzwords to fit in with current trends as well. Wines can be sold as “low-carb” and “natural,” for example, but what exactly does that mean? With vague labels even from the companies that call themselves “transparent”, what is the truth?
Does It Live Up to the Hype?
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In order to get to the bottom of this question, I reached out to Kenneth C., owner of Waystone Vineyard Management in Sonoma. He’s also worked with plenty of wineries throughout his career. I asked him about clean wine and how it compares to regular wine. His immediate response: “I haven’t even heard of clean wine.”
After explaining, he had quite a bit to say. First: that wine is heavily regulated. For example, he says, “It’s illegal to just add sugar to wine. Nobody does that.”
And claims that concentrates are bad? “It’s like when people promote ‘sulfite-free wine’ as being better. People don’t know what those words mean, so they get scared by them.” Indeed, sulfites have long been suggested to be the cause behind hangovers, another selling point for companies. However, sulfites are in plenty of foods that do not cause hangovers (ever had a hangover from potato chips or jam?), and only those who specifically have a sensitivity will have a reaction.
The Organic Food and Beverage Industry
Still, people are buying into it. The words “organic” and “natural” draw in consumers who are looking to eat and drink clean (or so they think – again, clean wine as an example). Globe Newswire predicts that the organic F&B market will be worth 272 billion dollars by 2027. That’s a huge number, and it indicates that organic foods are not going anywhere. And celebrities are hopping on this trend, too: Cameron Diaz and Katherine Powers just launched their own company, Avaline, capitalizing on the “clean wine” trend by boasting vegan wine without additives.
— womensfashion-online (@womensfashionUS) March 17, 2021
It’s for this reason, most likely, that clean wine continues to grow and reap the benefits of the word. Just don’t misunderstand it. “Nowadays, ‘organic’ means certified, so you can’t say it’s organic unless it’s inspected and approved,” says Kenneth. This goes back to the fact that wine is heavily regulated by “region, varietal, and alcohol content.” So, even if your regular wine isn’t “organic,” that doesn’t indicate that it’s unhealthy.
Long Story Short
Sure, you can try clean wine and see if it’s for you – there’s nothing harmful about it, despite potentially misleading ideas and buzzwords behind it. Just make sure you’re not buying into the idea of this being a “healthy” wellness trend, because it’s still alcohol. If you prefer the taste, great – just remember to drink in moderation and stay hydrated, and you’re likely to avoid the less-favored aspects of wine. And that’s the 411.
Have you heard of clean wine? If so, what are your thoughts? Sound off in the comments.
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