That after-dinner cocktail or glass of wine doesn’t become a healthier habit just because the alcohol involved is organic. Many organic wines and spirits are calculated marketing efforts rather than health and environmental statements, says Jerald O’Kennard, director of Chicago-based reviewing group the Beverage Testing Institute.
“There’s a lot of Johnny-come-lately products out there that aren’t worth it,” he says. Fermentation, distillation and filtering — intrinsic parts of wine and spirit production — eliminate any pesticides anyway, especially in high-proof alcohol like vodka. An “organically grown grapes” label is also misleading, because the winery is still allowed some 500 additives in the winemaking process, says Natalie MacLean, editor of wine education site Nat Decants.
Another negative: “Organic wine has a very short shelf life,” says O’Kennard. A little “aging” on the store shelf may leave you with little more than vinegar. If you do buy an organic wine, don’t buy anything older than the current vintage, and ask the store how it was stored. Heat or light may cause it to sour faster.