We tapped Helen Johannesen of Helen’s Wine in Los Angeles to give us a crash course in what makes organic wine the better choice in the vino world.
“Wine is a scary thing if you aren’t careful. There are up to 300 different rogue chemicals and substances that can be added to mass-produced wine to mask flaws and create smoke and mirrors of enhanced flavors. It’s a scary space, and the hardest part is that there is very little regulation, so you can’t tell as a consumer that some random bottle of wine at the supermarket or liquor store might have excessive sugar in a form called Mega Purple, or it was tweaked with the help of pig stomach lining or shrimp shells. The descriptions on the labels won’t help you because it’s marketing copy. And what’s tricky about wine is it’s a real insiders club.
Wine is an agricultural product and should be nurtured, cared for, and thought about every step of the way. I support small farmers who are artists. They are growing their grapes using organic farming methods and sometimes dipping their toes into biodynamic farming. What is biodynamics, you ask? It’s a philosophy of farming started back in the 1920s by a guy named Rudolph Steiner who wanted to look at the entire picture of farming as it relates to the earth to harness a magical prowess. It’s farming based on the moon cycle through the constellations … yes, time to trip out with me on the energy aspect of only drinking the dopest wine.
And trust me: you will feel the difference. Remember that party you went to and you drank one glass of bad red wine and had the worst hangover? It wasn’t you, it was the wine. Organic and natural wines are the way to go. They’re handmade and small production. Some are classic and straightforward, but others can be weird and funky. They champion orange wine and dark-hued rosés. They are beautiful and energetic.
When you come on this journey with me, you start stepping into the concept of terroir. Terroir is a term that covers everything affecting the grape-growing environment, including the climate, terrain, and soil. It’s the geological structure of what was laid down millions of years ago—I’m talking the aftermath of Pangea—and how different grape varietals interact with those different vibey soil types. Grapes are merely a vehicle to express terroir. Knowing this, you start craving that information. You develop a palate that is elevated but doesn’t have to be expensive.
Taking the plunge is easy, but you won’t be able to go back. Check out my podcast Wine Face if you want to go deeper. And if you’re in Los Angeles, come see me @helenswines.”
Additionally, there are wine filters you can use that take out the sulfates and histamines from wine and it’s so much better for you to drink. Shop the filters here and here.
Shop Organic Wines for Summer:
ALEXANDER & MARIA KOPPITSCH
HOMOK, BURGENLAND, GRUNER VELTLINER/SAUVIGNON BLANC/WEISSBURGUNDER, 2018
AZIENDA AGRICOLA LAMORESCA
NEROCAPITANO, SICILIA, FRAPPATO, 2018
BENJAMIN TAILLANDIER, MINERVOIS, LANGUEDOC-ROUSSILLON, CINSAULT/SYRAH/CARIGNAN, 2018
BROC CELLARS, MENDOCINO, SANGIOVESE, 2018
STYRIA, AUSTRIA, BLAUER WILDBACHER, NV