Is the ‘Clean’ Wine Movement Legit? A Holistic Nutritionist Weighs In

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Did you hear? ‘Clean’ Wine is having a moment. It’s so on trend that it even has its own celebrity spokesperson, as Cameron Diaz just launched her new ‘clean’ wine brand Avaline. And to solidify its place in wellness, Diaz recently spoke one-on-one with Gwyneth Paltrow for a Goop In Health session to explain why chemical-free wine consumption is as important as adopting a clean beauty routine or shopping for grass-fed meat or organic produce.

Shortly after Diaz and Paltrow’s eye-opening chat, The Guardian came out calling the “goopification of grapes” a marketing scam of sorts, because as they noted—how can alcohol ever be good enough for you to be placed in the wellness category?

So, what is the real story on so-called ‘clean’ wine? Is it just a trendy label or is it really so much better for you that it’s worth making the switch? We asked holistic nutritionist and NewBeauty Brain Trust member Jennifer Hanway for her take on the fad. 

NB:  Why do you think clean wine is having a moment right now?
Jennifer Hanway: I think it’s probably twofold: one, the clean eating and lifestyle movement has been gaining in popularity for many years, and it’s becoming more prevalent in mainstream and social media. Two, as we are turning to food and drink as a way to relieve the stress of these challenging times, the health conscious among us are looking for healthier alternatives to their favorite treats.

NB: What makes a wine organic or ‘clean’?
JH: It’s worth noting that these two terms are very different. There are no regulations around the term ‘clean’, and its definition differs wildly between food brands, bloggers, nutritionists and health experts. Typically, clean might mean no added artificial ingredients, but I would suggest looking for words on the label such as organic or biodynamic which have more stringent regulations.

However, even if a wine is labelled organic, this can mean different things depending on where the wine is made. In the U.S., organic wines certified by the USDA have strict regulations; they are grown without synthetic fertilizers, contain no added sulfites and all added ingredients must be certified organic. However, organic wines may still contain additives.

NB: What types of things are organic wines formulated without that consumers should take note of?
JH: Certified organic wines do not contain sulfites and are typically lower in sugar than conventional wines. They also do not contain certain colorings and flavorings that may be found in conventional wines. It is the higher sugar content and additives in conventional wines that may cause headaches and other hangover symptoms in some people.  In addition, organic wines have been found to have higher levels of antioxidants and polyphenols than conventional wines. 

NB: What is your professional recommendation on switching to clean wine?
JH: Don’t be afraid to ask for help! All of the different terminology can be confusing even for someone like me, so always ask the wine store staff for help. Typically, the ‘cleanest’ of wines are both biodynamic and certified organic but depending on the county of origin the wine may be made close to organic standards, but just not have the certification. There are also a number of online retailers selling natural and organic wines, including Dry Farm Wines and Scout and Cellar. However, as a nutritionist it would be irresponsible for me not to mention that these wines still have the same alcohol content as their conventional counterparts, so it’s important to enjoy responsibly.

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