Biodynamic Wine– Great or Gimmick?

In the past few months, I’ve noticed the term “biodynamic wine” popping up more and more. I’m no expert, and I don’t believe I’ve ever consumed a wine labeled “biodynamic,” but after the results of my research…I don’t think I’m breaking down the door to get to a bottle just yet.

The concept of biodynamics was founded by Rudolph Steiner, a Hungarian philosopher, social reformer, architect and esotericist. (And so the skepticism begins…) According to an article by Etty Lewensztain, Steiner believed that “the success of a vineyard depends on the interrelationship between the soil, plants, animals and other organisms on a farm.” Additionally, such wines are produced without the use of chemical sprays and artificial preservatives. Good things, I’d say.

However, Lewensztain loses me a bit when she goes on to state that biodynamic practitioners “bury manure-filled cows’ horns among vineyards and plant the vines according to the phases of the moon, in keeping with the astronomical calendar.” Hmmm. I don’t know if I’ll ever select a wine based on it being in tune with celestial bodies, to be honest.

I understand the inclination to buy organic wine. Who wants unneeded chemicals in their glass? But biodynamic…? The wine industry may just be getting a little too creative for me. Unlike standards for organic products, biodynamics seems to leave things too open for interpretation. Skeptics may be a little more comfortable learning of the biodynamic tactics that contribute to a high-quality product. Presently, I believe there’s too much reliance on the belief that biodynamics is made up of mystic and spiritual concepts, which skeptics may not necessarily buy into when it comes to wine.

If you value the biodynamic theory, then go right ahead. But as for me, who’s a bit more skeptical, I’m eager to learn what the biodynamic practice does for what I’m drinking. Is it just a lot of special, fancy things happening at the producers’ end, but never manifesting itself in the glass?

You see, I have some trust issues with the food/beverage industry and its straightforwardness, or lack thereof. Much like the food industry’s claims of  “all natural”, “made with real fruit” and “good source of fiber” products, many labels are virtually meaningless. It can be difficult to remember that even the products we consume are vulnerable to tricky tactics to make them more appealing to buyers. Producers know they’ve struck gold when they’ve convinced us a label means a product is “healthy”, or in the case of biodynamics, “trendy.”

I’m not attempting to discredit the practice of biodynamics. But in my humble public relations-inclined opinion, I think that it is in the producers’ best interest to inform the public of what the label means for what’s in the bottle, and of its legitimate standards of certification.

I won’t turn down the chance to try a biodynamic glass. But I’m not hopping on the biodynamic train just yet. Unless, of course, it’s also labeled “Certified Delicious.”

Photo by MEJones found here.

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