Clean beauty has been all the rage, but a new clean favorite is about to hit center stage- clean wine. Although clean wine isn’t a novel idea, it hasn’t been readily available or accessible to the masses. The easiest way to get ahold of truly clean wine is to have a relationship with an organic winery. Luckily, Michelle Feldman, a holistic esthetician turned sommelier, and Courtney Dunlop, former beauty and health journalist, came together to bring clean wine to everyone with their brand Good Clean Wine.
“We both love and drink wine. We’ve seen the rise of clean beauty and skincare, and people becoming aware of what they put on their skin and in their bodies. People feel comfortable seeking out clean skincare and farm-fresh, unprocessed food, but when it comes to wine, it’s very confusing. People aren’t aware that there are many additives that can be added to wine. There are so many amazing wine producers out there making high quality wine without these additives, and they are using sustainable farming practices, but we saw that there was a huge group of people that would never find these wines because they aren’t experts. With Good Clean Wine we are able to offer some of this wine to people who otherwise would never experience it,” shared Feldman and Dunlop.
According to Feldman, wine can include up to 60 ingredients in addition to grapes to achieve desired colors and tastes and to fix and stabilize wine. Sugars are added to control fermentation and to sweeten wine. Oak flavoring or oak chips can be added to give the wine an oak aroma and taste, without the need for barrels. Even more shocking, often times dyes like megapurple are added to bump up flavor and color, and animal by products like fish bladders and beef gelatin can be used to filter and fine impurities out of wine. “Winemakers and experts debate whether these ingredients and processes are harmful or not. It’s more about transparency – you don’t have to list any of these ingredients on the label, but we think the consumer should at least be able to make the choice about whether they care about additives or not. At the end of the day, people should just drink what they like and what makes them feel good,” she explained.
While the EU has regulations around what can be added to wine, in the US there aren’t any set standards in place. Much like the beauty industry there isn’t a benchmark or guideline to what defines “clean” wine. Typically, clean wine is sustainably farmed and made from vineyard to bottle. Dunlop and Feldman chose to use the word clean because customers already have a frame of reference for that term and are familiar with it in regards to skincare and food. “Our version of “clean” means minimal intervention. As little as possible is done to the wine during the entire process from grape to bottle so that the wine tastes amazing and makes you feel great. At the end of the day, the only way to really know if your wine is “clean” is to know your winemakers and do your research. We created Good Clean Wine for people who aren’t inclined to do that research,” said Dunlop. “When we say our wine is clean, we aren’t saying that other wine is bad or “dirty”. There are amazing wine producers all over the world making clean wine, and they have been for generations. We are an option for people who aren’t familiar with the winemaking world and how it works. Our hope is that people try our wine, fall in love, and then it inspires them to be more experimental with wine in general. We’ve had clients who tell us that they now feel comfortable looking for Tuscan wines in their local wine shops because of our wine. We just want the intimidation factor to be gone,” added Feldman.
Good Clean Wine comes from Italy made by a small cooperative of winemakers Dunlop and Feldman personally know and have visited several times. “We know the winemakers and see the harvest and winemaking process in person. Good Clean Spumante and Spumante Rosé comes from the Emilia-Romagna region. Good Clean White, Red, and Rosé come from Grosseto, Maremma, Tuscany,” the duo shared. Their wine is produced in first-rate soils in sustainable vineyards and wineries with strict biodiverse, organic farming and winemaking practices. Which means everything from the soil, crops, wildlife, livestock and the natural vegetation in the area is balanced and grown together. Wine grown in this way reflects the terroir and tastes amazing. It’s made without using synthetic chemicals, fertilizers, organic sprays or sulphur dioxide. As far as sugar additives, Good Clean Wine does not include added or refined sugars, only residual sugar that naturally occurs form the grape. Essentially, Our winemakers do as little to the wine as possible.
What are the benefits to drinking clean wine? Besides the obvious benefit of drinking wine without any additives or toxic chemicals, Dunlop and Feldmans customer have reported fewer headaches, flare-ups, skin reactions, nausea, etc. A Harvard study found that sulfites in wine could be causing headaches for drinkers hence why drinking a clean wine may alleviate that trigger. Taking Good Clean Wine mainstream has had it’s challenges. “I feel like I’m reliving 2009 again ( I was still a beauty and health editor) when natural beauty first started getting ramped up, and then it morphed into clean beauty. There was a lot of resistance to those categories from the skincare world. But as you can see, clean beauty is only growing and people love it,” said Dunlop.
Besides creating space for clean wine in industry, educating the consumer has been a priority for Good Clean wine. “Clean wine is not a new concept. Delicious, affordable clean wine has always been available, but many consumers don’t know how to find it. You can’t tell from a wine label what is or is not in your wine or what ingredients or processes went into make your wine. To know these things, you have to know your winemaker. We know the winemakers and we know the wine making processes, so we take the work out of it for you,” explained Feldman. “With wine, people forget that we’re talking about agriculture. Also, we point out that just because it’s “clean” does not mean it’s healthy. Alcohol is not healthy and should only be a part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle. I compare clean wine to dessert: Sugar is not healthy, but if I am going to eat dessert I’d rather it be a piece of homemade cake using all natural ingredients instead of a processed, corn syrup snack,” added Dunlop.