Wines of Distinction
Inspired by the Gods Q
Written by Domenic Mercurio, Jr. Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault
Known in restaurant circles as The Wine Guy, Domenic is focused on food and wine education. Domenic’s enthusiasm and passion for food and wine, propelled him into a local TV wine education series, The Wine Guy, in which he took viewers on a tour of California and Italy’s wine regions and historic destinations. In addition to being the editor and publisher of Foodies of New England magazine, Dom is the host of Foodies of New England, a dynamic and educational TV show. The show features New England’s best, award-winning chefs, and their signature recipes.
uestion: Given the choice between an “organic” wine and a “regular” wine, which would you choose, and why?
This question has confounded many wine drinkers for quite some time, mainly because the beneﬁts of drinking organic versus non-organic wines are not very apparent to many consumers, and organic wines typically are more expensive than the alternative. By the way, what, exactly, is the “alternative” to an organic wine? That is, what’s so bad about non-organic wine? To answer these questions, we ﬁrst need to know the basic differences between organic and non-organic wine; speciﬁcally, what does an organic wine not have that a non-organic wine does have, or vice-versa? According to the Organic Consumers Association, the biggest distinction between organic and non-organic is the addition of something called sulﬁtes in non-organic wine. All wine has some sulﬁtes; both organic and non-organic have naturally-occurring sulﬁtes that are inherent in the soil, but non-organic wine often contains naturally-occurring plus added sulﬁtes. Sulﬁtes, or sulfur dioxide (SO2), are used as preservatives in wines. They demonstrate strong, antimicrobial properties and have antioxidants, which often allow wines to maintain their berry ﬂavors after being opened and exposed to oxygen. To illustrate what happens to wine after the cork is pulled, imagine cutting an apple, letting it sit out until it turns brown from oxidation, and then eating it. The result is an acidic, bitter taste, void of the once-fruity appeal. The same is true of wine that has been exposed to oxygen for too long; the soft, berry characteristics are muted and the predominant ﬂavors are now tannic acid and a subtle toasted, nutty quality (in some examples). The addition of sulﬁtes typically slows down the onset of oxidation after wine has been exposed to air, leaving the fruit ﬂavors intact for a longer period of time for the drinker to enjoy. So, in effect, sulﬁtes actually help to make wine more enjoyable, right? If that’s the case, then why are sulﬁtes commonly blamed for headaches and allergic reactions in a small population of wine drinkers? Are sulﬁtes getting a bad rap? How Much is Too Much? In Europe, the largest wine-producing region in the world, the allowable limit of sulﬁtes in red wine is 160 parts per million (ppm), 210 ppm for white wine, and 400 ppm for sweet wines.
Foodies of New England
Published on Sep 1, 2012