To be totally honest, when we see a new “clean wine” on the market, our gut reaction is skepticism. In the era of wellness drinks (hello, CBD sparkling water and sugar-free wine), it can be difficult to sort out the good from the, um, B.S.
Allow us to explain: When it comes to wine, that “clean” label is a bit of a mystery. In fact, it’s pretty much arbitrary. Since winemakers aren’t required to list ingredients, a brand could slap the word “clean” on any old bottle and call it a day (unlike organic wine, which requires vineyard certification, and is expensive and time-consuming). “Clean” isn’t a regulated designation. Some would go so far as to call it a marketing scam. It is still alcohol, after all.
So yeah, we were skeptical about the Wonderful Wine Co. (a new line of bottles from wine subscription company Winc). It claims its “clean” wine is pesticide-free, low in sulfites, made with organic grapes (“whenever possible,” per the website), vegan-friendly and contains no added sugar. Per a one-sheet, the grapes are also either sustainably-farmed, Sustainability in Practice (SIP) certified or certified organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and free of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
True, many wines are not vegan friendly, since they’re fined (aka filtered) using animal byproducts. And high-quality winemakers typically frown upon adding additional sugar to the wine during bottling. Pesticide-free? OK, we like that.
The “low in sulfites” thing is a little tricky, though. See, all wines naturally contain sulfites—they’re a byproduct of the fermentation process. But some winemakers will add additional sulfites, which preserve the quality of the wine from the time it’s bottled to when it reaches your hands. It’s not always a bad thing, but sulfites have gotten a bad rap. They’re often blamed for the splitting headache you get after one or two glasses of wine, and the foggy hangover the next day. But then again, that could be the dehydration. And doctors say sulfite sensitivity typically results in breathing problems, not headaches. The jury is out.
The Wonderful Wine Co. is also low-carb and keto- and Paleo-friendly, and the label claims to be sustainable. The website says, “It’s estimated that almost half of a wine bottle’s carbon footprint comes from the production and mishandling of packaging. With that in mind, we continue to make improvements to create a more efficient, eco-friendly system.” Per the brand, that means bottling with lightweight glass and no wine capsules; shipping with recycled materials; and using eco-friendly shipping methods.
Clean or not, we still needed to know what this “wonderful” wine tasted like—and if it was worth seeking out over our local bottle shop. We enlisted PureWow social media editor Ali Brown to taste few glasses, and here’s what she thought.