And the winner is…

Right up front, is non-organic wine better than organic wine?

Like so many other subjects, the answer depends upon whom you ask, and the game of questions is always filled with challenges and opportunities.

For instance and for many reasons, it’s enjoyable for me to play a game of trivia.

First of all, if you’re playing trivia, it means you’re socializing and that’s good because social interaction is part of a healthy lifestyle. But there’s more to it than just socializing.

Asking questions — whether in playtime or in real-life situations — puts us in a position to learn new ideas, to visit new places and to maybe even meet new people.

Asking questions keeps our minds active and gives it the opportunity to do exactly what our brains are supposed to do and that’s to think.

Let’s go back to the opening question of this column — is non-organic wine better than organic wine? When we explore the answers to that question, we find challenges and opportunities.

The challenges are that we may not like the resulting factual answers but, the question gives us the opportunity to mentally grow and expand our learning experience. In other words, our preconceived notions of people, places and things might be challenged and that can be unsettling.

However, in my little corner of the world, being challenged with opportunities is good. So let’s grab a glass of wine and discuss whether non-organic wine is better or worse than organic wine.

A good question to ask here is this: what is organic wine and what is non-organic wine?

The wine most of us drink is non-organic wine. Like the corn and soy bean fields we see around us in the summer time, the vineyards of non-organic wines, unlike the vineyards of organic wines, are introduced to a wide variety of toxic pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Along with these chemicals used in the fields, the non-organic winemaker will introduce various additives to the wine during the wine making process in an effort to improve the wine’s taste and shelf life.

One byproduct of the fermentation process of any wine is sulfur dioxide (SO2). The non-organic vintner may add additional sulfur dioxide after the fermenting process to extend the shelf life of the wine. The downside of too much sulfur dioxide is that it may change the taste of the wine. Therefore, the organic vintner will not add more of the chemical to the wine which means the organic wine has about one-third of the amount of SO2 as non-organic wines and, supposedly, it has a truer taste.

The organic winemaker will add some items like yeast and egg whites during the wine making process but the amounts used are kept to a minimum.

Why doesn’t the organic winemaker use chemicals in the vineyard and more additives in the wine-making process? Well, the answer is rather simple. The organic vintner believes the organic process is better for you, the planet and for the people who work in the vineyard. Does it take more work to make a good organic wine? Absolutely! Does it mean higher labor costs and lower yields? The answer to that question is, yes! But, to the organic vintner, it’s worth it.

Mendocino’s (California) Frey Vineyards bills itself as this country’s first organic winery. Started in the mid-1960s, it continues to use the same natural farming techniques they used over 40 years ago. Those processes include composting the grape must (juice that contains the skins, seeds and stems of the fruit), animal manure (they have cows, sheep and goats grazing between the vineyard rows) and grass clippings and then spreading that compost material on the vineyard for its nutritional value and to help control weeds.

Other Mendocino area organic wineries include Bonterra and McFadden Farm’s Horse and Plow brand wines. I’ve tasted Bonterra’s Pinot Noir and have found it to be a good wine. Is it better than a non-organically grown and produced Pinot Noir? The answer to that question is personal.

I can’t answer for your taste buds nor can you answer for my taste buds because tasting is very personal and subjective.

So, is organic wine better than non-organic wine?

I guess that depends on what your mind believes and thinks. Are chemicals good for the soil, you and the planet? How many chemicals can we introduce into ourselves before there’s some kind of impact on us? How selective are we when it comes to buying a product — does how it’s made or grown matter to us?

Well as I said in the beginning, questions will challenge us but they’ll also give us opportunities for growth.

Sometimes it’s very hard to simple say; “And the answer is…”

Next week, are they really that good?

As always, eat and drink in moderation but laugh with reckless abandon!