Your Guide to Buying and Drinking Truly Sustainable Wine


With climate change concerns echoing worldwide, consumers are paying closer attention to the products they buy and consume. Prioritization of sustainable practices has never been as crucial to the public as it is today. Worldwide organizations and leaders provide rewards and certifications to distinguished vineyards and wine-makers leading the environmental charge.

If you want to support these businesses, you’ll want to follow this guide to buy and drink truly sustainable wines.

1. Learn the Differences Between Products

Many people mistakenly use sustainability, biodynamic and organic as interchangeable terms. Your first step is to learn the differences between these descriptions because they aren’t always the same. Sustainability comes in many shapes in sizes, and while sustainable wines can be organic and biodynamic, it doesn’t mean all organic and biodynamic wines are sustainable. Sustainable vineyards may promote biodiversity, recycle rainwater, use recyclable materials and renewable resources and take other eco-friendly steps unique to their location.

In comparison, organic vineyards do not need to have any of these sustainable practices in place. They need to avoid using pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and ensure that their grapes and conversion materials are certified organic. While organic standards may have environmental benefits, it does not mean these products are eco-friendly or sustainable.

Biodynamics is a holistic farming practice with standards set by the Demeter Association. Vineyards must plant and harvest at certain times and follow unique rules which correspond to astrological occurrences. In some ways, it’s similar to organic farming because it shuns synthetic pesticides and herbicides.

2. Review the Label

Reviewing a wine bottle’s label will give you a better understanding of its certifications and rankings. Many non-profit organizations around the world promote and certify sustainable wines.

Examples of such organizations and certifications include:

  • Environmental Management Systems (EMS)
  • Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (CCSW)
  • Lodi Rules
  • SIP Certified
  • Live Certified

3. Compare Your Options

Besides looking at the labels for certifications, you can review a wine’s rating. The wine rating system is out of 100 and seeks to standardize tasting information and consumption. To keep it simple, you can think of it like receiving a grade in school — the closer it is to 100, the better critiques scored during their tasting.

Tasters rank based on:

  • Appearance
  • Aroma
  • Flavors
  • Finish

You should use these ratings as a guide, but not like the law. Everyone has different tastes and preferences, so you may love a product that only ranks in the mid-80s. Similarly, some newer bottles may not have a ranking which means they’ll be a mystery until you test them yourself.

4. Make a List

Balance is at the root of sustainability. While it’s beneficial to choose sustainable items, it’s also important to practice caution when buying without a plan. Making a list can help you buy according to your needs. You can record how many bottles you want and how frequently you drink them. This is especially beneficial if you intend to purchase sustainable wines which are also organic. Typically organic wines do not age well compared to other types and have a relatively short expiration period once opened.

Cheers to Sustainability

Using this guide, you can feel confident while shopping for sustainable wine. If you’re hoping to learn more information about the wine-making process, you can always contact a vineyard representative for more details. For those who want a less thought-consuming routine, you may want to invest in a sustainable subscription service with a company that researches on your behalf.

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