Wine: Drink like a happy environmentalist

BlogHer Original Post

In exactly 4 hours I'll be headed to Bodega Wine Bar. In anticipation, a wine post! Here's a primer on making the world a lil greener while getting a lil tipsier:

1. Drink to your health -- go organic. There's lotsa tasty brands, and they aren't hard to find -- brands like Bonterra get shelf space even at major supermarkets, though you'll get a better selection at Whole Foods, Wild Oats, or your closest co-op grocery store.

To find them, look for the USDA organic seal, or for the phrase "made with organic grapes" on the wine label. The difference between the two is that the latter have added sulfites, which disqualifies them from getting the USDA seal. But unless you have a sulfite sensitivity, both are really good options. Either way, your happy hours'll be happier cuz you're keeping pesticides off the earth, away from farm workers, and out of you.

2. Get a taste of the local wines. You might not find a winery in your city -- one close to me's Moraga Vineyards in Bel Air, though they're too pricy for my budget -- but you'll likely find some nice ones in your state -- especially if you live in California! One of my fave wines are Five Hills Blue, organic Californian wines sold at Trader Joe's for just $5.99 a bottle.

3. Consider fair trade wines. This is a brand new niche in the US -- and so far I've only found one brand, Etica's Carménère 2005. However, I really, really did enjoy this wine, and will be getting more for special occasions. Yes, shipping wine from far off places means burning fossil fuels, but different wines do taste considerably different, and you'll be supporting fair labor and economic development in other countries.

4. Drop by your local wine shop. One of the easiest way to discover new yummy organic wines is by getting a friendly wine dude to help you at your nearest local wine shop, like Wally's Wines. Get personalized wine-assistance, maybe partake in some samples, and support your local economy.

5. Visit a good wine bar. For those in the LA area: Bottle Rock in Culver City has a few organic and biodynamic wines you can choose from. Bodega Wine Bar too sometimes has some organic options -- though it's a bit of a toss up cuz they like to change their wine menu around.

6. Dine with wine. Restaurants with an eco-bent like Jiraffe, Lou, Real Food Daily and Tender Greens offer organic wines to complement your organic meal.

7. Recycle. Remember to put that wine bottle in the recycling bin. Some will argue that wine boxes are lighter and thus ship more greenly -- but boxed wines're made of non-reyclable materials -- and I'm queasy about one-use stuff that stays forever.

If possible try to opt for traditional corks which biodegrade, not those plastic corks. Recently, there was a woman on freecycle asking for corks -- apparently her parrot likes to nibble on these! I'll have to look into that method of recycling --

[image of Bodega Wine Bar by Omar Bárcena]

BlogHer Contributing Editor Siel also blogs at greenLAgirl.com.

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