Before you pour a glass of wine, feel the weight of the bottle in your hand. Would you notice if it were a few ounces lighter? Jackson Family Wines is betting that you won't.
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By Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
Over six gallons of water are required to produce one gallon of wine. "Irrigation, sprays, and frost protection all [used in winemaking] require a lot of water," explained winemaker and sommelier Keith Wallace, who's also a professor and the founder of the Wine School of Philadelphia, the largest independent wine school in the U.S. And water waste is just the start of the climate-ruining inefficiencies commonplace in the wine industry. Sustainably speaking, climate change could be problematic for your favorite glass of wine.
Sustainability Is Subjective<p>Sustainability isn't an absolute, meaning that wine and its agricultural counterparts can be sustainable in some ways, and not so much in other facets. While winemaking may be hyper eco-conscious, bottling and shipping may harm the planet beyond what less sustainable vineyard habits could ever lay claim to. Sustainability is rosé; neither white nor red, not necessarily organic or inorganic, but somewhere in between. And that limbo of sustainability can be, like a nicely chilled pink wine, complex and delicious, though nowhere near as easy to sip.</p><p>For instance, organically grown and made wine is not necessarily considered to be organic wine. "In the wine industry, many growers farm organically, but to be certified as an organic farm, the grower must keep records of practices for several years and submit them to one of the certifying organizations, like <a href="https://www.ccof.org/" target="_blank">California Certified Organic Farmers</a>," explained Vanessa Conlin, head of wine at online wine store <a href="https://www.wineaccess.com/" target="_blank">Wine Access</a>.</p><p>These etymological (and bureaucratic) hurdles make it difficult for a wine to become officially organic certified, and therefore the organic practices of omitting synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and other toxins from the wine-growing and making process, though better for the environment and the consumer's health, typically go unseen on a wine bottle's label. In France, however, a special European Union regulated label, <a href="https://www.winetourbooking.com/en/what-is-actually-a-biological-wine/" target="_blank">the Ecocert</a>, marks biological (that is, wines free of artificial pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer) wines, proving that such an indicator can be successfully utilized with a little government interest.</p><p>In the United States, organic is the most popular label to identify a biological wine, but wines that are labeled organic also cannot contain any added sulfites. Sulfites are a natural by-product of fermentation, but many winemakers add sulfur dioxide as antimicrobial and an antioxidative agent, stabilizing wines to best ensure the bottle tastes as good as expected once uncorked.</p><p>"The key difference between sustainable and organic farming is that while sustainability is meant to protect the environment for future generations, it does not have to include organic practices, although many do," Conlin explained. "Sustainability takes into account the health of the entire business, in ways like water preservation, energy efficiency, and even the well-being of the employees." <a href="https://www.alcoholprofessor.com/blog-posts/whats-the-difference-between-sustainable-organic-and-biodynamic-wine" target="_blank">Biodynamic wine</a>, which utilizes a closed ecosystem, that is, no outside fertilizers or alternative products, is just one example of a type of sustainable wine.</p><p>"Every winery and farm can do it," <a href="https://www.lifeinthefingerlakes.com/hunt-country-vineyards-wins-award/" target="_blank">said</a> Art Hunt, who, along with his wife Joyce, founded and owns Hunt Country Vineyards, located near Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes AVA ("American Viticultural Area," a federally designated wine grape-growing region) in upstate New York. The Hunts regard their vineyard as a total, biodiverse ecosystem that supports bees, birds and other wildlife.</p><p>"It's not all or nothing," Hunt said about running a sustainable winery. "You can work at it every year without it impacting your bottom line too much, and gradually increase your profitability."</p>
Sipping Wine Sustainably<p>The carbon footprint of global winemaking and global wine consumption is nothing to scoff at. The latter, which requires cases of wine be shipped from California to Spain, France to China, Australia to South Africa or perhaps back to Oregon or Alaska and everywhere in between, imprints a deep carbon footprint. Because wine is so region-specific, and only so many regions can create drinkable bottles, ground and air transportation is <a href="https://www.livescience.com/3041-carbon-footprint-wine.html" target="_blank">responsible for nearly all of the wine industry's CO2 emissions</a>.</p><p>Pesticides may fall out of favor, but a craving for an excellent Napa Cabernet in Singapore may not. The solution? Better packaging. "Many sustainable producers are making a concerted effort to lessen their carbon footprint by moving to lighter-weight glass bottles, or are trying alternative packaging, as the actual production of glass is energy-intensive," Conlin explained. "Cans, kegs, and other alternative types of packaging are lighter to ship and, in the case of kegs, are often reusable." Wine on tap? Great for the planet!</p><p>Unless you're a hyper-knowledgeable wine consumer, actually understanding how to purchase a bottle of wine sustainably can be befuddling. Beyond the physical packaging, labels like Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, additional local certifications, and the universal <a href="https://www.demeter.de/verbraucher/landwirtschaft/weinbau/weltweit/faq" target="_blank">Demeter</a> qualification, only for biodynamic wines, can address environmental concerns. "Look for key terms like sustainable or integrated pest management or even biodynamic," Wallace suggested. "They mean a wine was made with the goal to protect and maintain the natural ecosphere."</p><p>Also, winemakers use <a href="https://vegansbaby.com/theres-what-in-my-wine-the-gross-ingredients-in-wine-no-one-talks-about/" target="_blank">animal-derived products</a> to clarify the wine in a process called "fining." Some fining agents include casein (a milk protein), albumin (egg whites), gelatin (animal protein) and isinglass (fish bladder protein). Since animal agriculture is the <a href="https://tinyurl.com/vnf53gy" target="_blank">second largest contributor</a> to human-made greenhouse gas emissions after fossil fuels and a <a href="https://tinyurl.com/r27g4eo" target="_blank">leading cause</a> of biodiversity loss, deforestation, and water and air pollution, eco-minded, animal-friendly wine drinkers may want to seek out vegan wines, which use mineral-based fining agents like activated charcoal or bentonite, a type of clay.</p><p>Wine is a dialogue, and there's no shame in asking a sommelier or wine store professional questions about wine and its sustainable bragging points. Ask which bottles (or cans!) are <a href="https://www.foodandwine.com/wine/sustainable-wines-and-spirits" target="_blank">sustainable</a> or <a href="https://vegnews.com/food-recipes/vegan-food-guides/wine" target="_blank">vegan</a>, which winemakers prioritize protecting the environment and if there are any local alternatives to a more faraway favorite.</p><p>"Industry buyers and restaurants are there to serve the demands of the consumer, so as interest in sustainability grows, savvy merchants are responding to that demand and often notate sustainably farmed wines on shelf-talkers or as symbols on wine lists," Conlin said. Don't see sustainable notations at your local wine shop or happy hour spot? Speak up!</p>
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Christmas celebrations turned sour when 11 people died and over 300 were hospitalized in the Philippines after drinking a batch of poisonous coconut wine, local police said on Monday.
Vintners in South Africa, France, Australia, California and more find themselves grappling with the effects of climate change, the Associated Press reported, as a tiny swing in temperatures can change the sugar, acid and tannin content for some grape varieties, making it difficult for wineries to replicate batches produced in the past.
By Zen Honeycutt
The past few years have revealed some disturbing news for the alcohol industry. In 2015, CBS news broke the announcement of a lawsuit against 31 brands of wines for high levels of inorganic arsenic. In 2016, beer testing in Germany also revealed residues of glyphosate in every single sample tested, even independent beers.
Moms Across America released test results of 12 California wines that were all found to be positive for glyphosate in 2016. We tested further and released new findings last week of glyphosate in all of the most popular brands of wines in the world, the majority of which are from the U.S. and in batch test results in American beer.
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By Andy Rowell
They say that oil and water do not mix. And now the proverb applies to oil and wine.
There is an escalating tension in Canada between the Albertan and British Columbian (B.C.) governments over the disputed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline, which is due to transport tar sands from Alberta to the B.C. Coast.
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By Stuart Butler
Christmas is just around the corner and with it flying reindeer and over-sized turkeys, carol singing and tinsel covered trees. The holiday season also means wine-drinking (and the younger and more excited your children, the more bottles of wine you'll likely require). For those of us who imbibe, it's almost impossible to imagine a Christmas without wine. It would be like a Christmas without a fat man in a red suit trying to squeeze down the chimney.
A new Global Wine Index outlines the most at-risk wine regions according to natural disasters, rising temperatures and other climate change factors. Unfortunately, some of the world's finest grapes are unlikely to survive.
By Kerri-Ann Jennings
Whether you prefer white or red wine is generally a matter of taste.
But if you want the healthiest pick, which should you choose?
Red wine has drawn lots of attention for its research-backed potential to lower the risk of heart disease and lengthen your lifespan.
Does white wine have the same benefits?
This article will review what you need to know about red and white wine—how they're made, what to watch out for and which is healthier.
What Is Wine?
Wine is made from fermented grape juice.
Grapes are picked, crushed and placed in buckets or vats to ferment. The process of fermentation turns the natural sugars in the grape juice into alcohol.
Fermentation can occur naturally, but sometimes winemakers add yeast to help control the process.
The crushed grapes are put through a press, which removes the skins and other sediment. Whether this step is done before or after fermentation determines whether the wine becomes red or white.
To make white wine, grapes are pressed before fermentation. Red wine is pressed after fermentation.
After this step, the wine is aged in stainless steel or oak barrels until it's ready to be bottled.
Summary: Wine is made from fermented grape juice. The grapes are picked, crushed and then allowed to ferment in buckets or vats.
What's the Difference Between Red and White Wine?
The main difference between white and red wine has to do with whether the grape juice is fermented with the grape skins.
To make white wine, grapes are pressed and skins, seeds and stems are removed before fermentation.
However, to make red wine, the crushed grapes are transferred to vats directly and they ferment with the skin, seeds and stems. The grape skins lend the wine its pigment, as well as many of the distinctive health compounds found in red wine.
As a result of steeping with the grape skins, red wine is particularly rich in plant compounds that are present in those skins, such as tannins and resveratrol (1).
White wine also has some of these healthy plant compounds, but generally in much lower amounts (2).
Many different grape varietals are used to produce wine, including Pinot Gris, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.
While red varietals are used to make red wine, white wine can actually be made from red or white grapes. For instance, traditional French champagne is made with the red Pinot Noir grape.
Many countries produce wine. Some of the main wine-growing regions are in France, Italy, Spain, Chile, South Africa, Australia and California in the U.S.
While most regions grow several types of grape varietals, some places are particularly known for one or two, such as Napa Valley Chardonnay, Spanish Tempranillo and South African Chenin Blanc.
Summary: Red wine grapes are fermented with the skin on, which gives the wine its color and provides beneficial plant compounds. Grapes for white wine, on the other hand, have their skins removed.
Red and white wine have very similar nutrition profiles.
Overall, red wine has a slight edge over white because it has higher amounts of some vitamins and minerals. Nevertheless, white wine contains fewer calories.
Summary: In terms of nutrients, red and white wine are neck and neck. However, red wine has slightly higher levels of some vitamins and minerals.