’Tis the season for holiday indulgences. During this festive time of year, you might want to relax with a glass of expensive wine, savor a cup of really good coffee, or treat yourself to a few pieces of the highest-quality chocolate. Unfortunately, the ingredients used to make these seasonal favorites are often sprayed with harmful pesticides and produced in unfair or unhealthy working conditions, which can throw a wet blanket on your holiday merrymaking.
But if you’re willing to do a little work—and, yes, pay a little extra—you can find wines, coffees, and chocolates produced with farming and fair-trade practices that are better for you, the environment, and everyone involved. So you can feel extra good about partaking in these luxuries and sharing them with your family or friends.
Wine Not Go Organic?
To enjoy the relaxing effects of wine without the harmful synthetic pesticides routinely sprayed on grapes, seek out organic varieties—or at least brands bearing the Made with Organic Grapes designation. The difference? It’s mostly a matter of sulfites, naturally occurring compounds that are often added as preservatives, which can cause severe allergic reactions in some people.
As you might imagine, a wine that qualifies as Made with Organic Grapes must be produced using 100 percent organic grapes. But while these wines must also adhere to some limits on additives that can be used during the winemaking process, added sulfites are allowed. Bonterra Organic Vineyards offers bottles, boxes, and cans of several varieties of this type of wine. Other “Made with Organic Grapes” brands include Bronco Rare Earth Cabernet Sauvignon and Grifone Pinot Grigio.
A wine that bears the USDA Organic label adheres to the same standards as wines made with organic grapes, but takes them one step further. Additives such as coloring agents, flavoring agents, and sulfites cannot be used during the winemaking process. The lack of added sulfites is a big health benefit because it allows some people who are sensitive to sulfites to enjoy a glass of wine without experiencing symptoms such as headaches, asthma, or stomach pain.
Frey Vineyards is considered America’s first organic and biodynamic winery. Based in Mendocino County, Calif., Frey has been producing vegan, glutenfree, organic wines with no added sulfites since 1980. Its brands include Frey Organic, Biodynamic Field Blend, Organic Agriculturist, Pacific Redwood, and Sun & Rain, each of which celebrates an aspect of organic agriculture, biodynamic farming, or other themes. Frey Organic Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, and Biodynamic Cabernet Sauvignon are popular choices.
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