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Organic wine: Myths, facts, and picks from a Brooklyn wine seller


“Increasingly, I have customers who only want to buy organic wine,” says Alyssa Becker, owner of Donna da Vine, an adorable boîte of a wine shop on Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill, who we tapped for recommendations. “But many have misconceptions about what organic wine is.”

Becker, who focuses on small producers—no Yellowtail in her aisles—and stocks lots of biodynamic and organic bottles is happy to explain.

  • Organic does not mean sulfite-free. Sulfites are a natural byproduct of the fermentation process of wine-making, says Becker. “You literally can’t make wine without them!”
  • Sulfites don’t cause the notorious red-wine headache. In fact, white wine has more sulfites than red. “A tiny percentage of the population, one percent according to the FDA, are sulfite-intolerant, however,” she says.
  • Organic wine grapes aren’t treated with pesticides, just like your produce at Whole Foods. So it’s a healthier choice for you and the environment from that standpoint, and often a marker of an artisanal approach to wine-making, says Becker.

“Wine makers who love what they do care about every step of the process. So growing organic grapes is simply a natural extension of good wine-making,” says Becker, who predicts we’ll see a more organic wines on white-linen tables around New York City.

Here are three organic wine recommendations from Alyssa Becker on what to stock your wine fridge with right now:

Jelu Malbec Rose (her Mother’s Day pour)
“I’m partial to red wine, so I like my whites and roses to have big, bold flavor. This one has the richness of a Malbec. If you close your eyes, you’d never know it was a rose. It tastes more like a chilled red for sure.”

X Winery, Red X North Coast, 2007
“I love this winery. Every year the blend changes and it just gets better. The 2007 has plenty of peppery black currant fruit mixed with herb and spice. It’s the perfect accompaniment to anything you might throw on the grill this summer.”

Heron Vin de Pays d’Oc Pinot Noir 2008 (Languedoc-Roussillon, France)
“I’ll admit it, Pinot Noir is rarely the first wine I reach for when I’m pouring myself a glass. The Heron combines the inkiness of the new world Pinots with the sophistication of the old world French Pinots. Winemaker Laley Heron has managed to find a magnificent balance with this grape.”

Donna da Vine, 355 Atlantic Avenue (btwn Hoyt and Bond), Brooklyn, 718-643-2250, www.donnadavine.com

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