Holiday parties and celebrations often lead to excessive drinking and gnarly hangovers. But did you know there's such a thing as clean, natural wine? In this healthy wine guide, we're filling up your holiday wine cellar from brands with high-quality natural wines from our favorite natural winemakers that are delicious, organic, sugar-free, low alcohol and additive-free, keeping you merry and bright all holiday season long (no headaches required!).
UPDATE: This post was originally published in December 2017 and has been updated in September 2022 with new information, tips, and helpful brands.
It's interesting how the holidays have a way of encouraging over-indulgence. We eat more, travel more, drink more, party more; everything seems to be in excess. And while we're all about the 80-20 rule, our health can really take a hit during this time of year.
One of the main ways we overindulge is with alcohol–everything from hard liquor and sugary cocktails, to beer and high alcohol wines.
In fact, did you know that people drink more alcohol in November and December than any other time of the year? (source)
This not only equals a lot of headaches and hangovers; it makes us feel like we're cheating on our regular healthy lifestyle and can actually take quite a toll on our health.
But really, the holidays shouldn’t be a time for guilt or deprivation–they’re a time for love and celebration! We believe that, in moderation, alcohol can be a vibrant part of the festivities.
You just have to drink the right stuff.
Do You Know What's Really In Your Wine?
As you might remember from our previous wine guide, conventional wines are highly processed and contain questionable additives and/or toxic pesticides and herbicides. In fact, Did you know…
- there are 76 chemicals and additives approved by the FDA for use in winemaking?
- standard modern wines are now much higher in alcohol and sugar than our ancestor's wines, and are also filled with questionable – if not downright harmful – chemicals and additives to improve texture, color and flavor? Put another way: winemakers are trying to mask the low-quality grapes and winemaking techniques being used.
- consumers have almost no way of knowing if the wines they’re drinking contain these additives? The U.S. government does not require wine labels to include nutritional information or ingredient lists.
What is Clean, Natural Wine?
From all our research, we’ve learned that low alcohol, organic, biodynamic or natural wines are the ideal alcohol choice to maximize the health benefits of wine (like all those polyphenols!) and minimize the negatives.
Here's what you want to look for when it comes to ‘clean wine':
- No or low sulfites (ideally less than 100ppm, compared to up to 350ppm in conventional wines)
- Sulfites are naturally occurring additives found in many fruits, vegetables and beverages. They contribute to the freshness and aroma of foods, but some people may experience reactions to sulfites. Sulfites are added to wine as a preservative. However, not all wines contain sulfites, so check the label before buying.
- No added sugar (and ideally less than 1 g/L)
- Low sugar wine is a type of wine that is made without any added sugars. This type of wine is often sold as “sugar-free” because it does not contain any added sugars. However, it may still contain natural sugars from the grapes and other ingredients in the wine. The average low sugar wine contains less than 0.5 grams of sugar per 100 milliliters (ml). Some types of low sugar wines also have additional health benefits, such as being low in calories or being low in sodium.
- Free from additives and chemicals found in conventional wines like GMOs, dyes, synthetic pesticides, copper sulfate, ammonium phosphate, ferrocyanide, and mega-purple
- In the winemaking process, there are several processes that need to take place. These processes include fermentation, malolactic fermentation, clarification, and aging. There are a number of reasons why additives are found in wine such as preventing spoilage during the fermentation process. In addition, additives may help to clarify the wine or help it age more quickly or improve the flavor of the wine by improving its clarity and reducing astringency. Common additives in wine include tannins, un-natural yeasts and fining agents. However, all these extra additives are often the wine components people react badly too so if you can AVOID them!
- Low alcohol (12.5% or less): low alcohol doesn’t mean “no buzz”–it’s a different buzz altogether. You can still enjoy the pleasant effects of low alcohol wines, but you’ll feel fresh and euphoric–not inflamed, foggy or sluggish.
To boot, the taste of clean wine is far superior! As soon as you take a sip, you’ll taste and feel the difference with these wines, as they're much cleaner, vibrant, complex and crisp compared to commercial wine.
Where to Buy Clean Wine for Your Holiday Wine Cellar?
Our favorite natural wine shop to buy wine these days is Dry Farm Wines. They offer everything from red to rose, to white and champagne and many of their wines are even vegan!
Dry Farm Wines curates the world’s best natural healthy wines from places in Europe like France, Spain, Italy, and many other vineyards full of healthy organic grapes! Their wine subscription boxes contain no additives, industrial machinery, or GMO fruit in their wines, meaning you get a finished product that's organic, clean, and has a positive impact on your health.
Amazingly, they only offer wines free of sugar and carbs (less than 1 g/L, so statistically sugar-free), which is super hard to find, but it makes a huge impact on how you feel (sugar = headaches)!
Plus, Dry Farm Wines lab tests every wine they import to make sure the alcohol content is 12.5% or less and ensure the highest certifications!
Healthy Wine + Gifts for the Holidays
In need of a holiday gift idea or clean wine for upcoming holiday parties and festivities? Check out the holiday promotions below for all your holiday wine needs!
Hand-Picked Clean Wine Gift Boxes
If you want to give the gift of natural wine for the holidays (who wouldn't love that?! It's really the PERFECT gift for any host/hostess or wine lover!), check out:
- Dry Farm Wines' Hand-Picked Gift Box where you can choose 3, 6, or 12 bottles as a one-time order of reds, whites, or mixed.
Plus, they will handle all the logistics of shipping the wine, so you can sit back and relax.
Sugar-Free Sparkling Wine
Bubbles are a staple of holiday celebrations, but they’re usually full of sugar. Many winemakers add sugar into the wine to trigger fermentation so bubbles form. In fact, sparkling wine can have up to 50 g/L, which is like eating 2 teaspoons of sugar with each glass of wine!
Dry Farm Wines also has a sparkling collection: from Spanish Cava to Italian Prosecco, every sparkling wine is organically farmed and naturally made without additives, plus free of sugar and carbs, making them completely Paleo and Ketogenic.
YES PLEASE! No need to sacrifice your health and get negative wine reactions like headaches or energy crashes.
Sign up for a sparkling wine subscription of 3 organic, handpicked sparkling wines monthly, bi-monthly, or every 3 months so you can feel good about clinking those flutes and enjoy a New Years celebration without the hangover!
Dry Farm Wines also has some organic, biodynamic, and vegan sparkling wines!
Healthy Wine for Just 1 Penny
Dry Farm Wines' selection is constantly changing since all the wines come from small, independent productions.
So rather than selling a specific label or bottle, they use a subscription model, where you buy a mixed box, complete with seasonal promos to match the holiday style. The most popular promotion of the year is the winter holiday collections–special wines for Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Years.
Plus: sign up through our exclusive link for a Dry Farm Wines' membership and get an extra bottle for just ONE PENNY in your first order!
You can cancel anytime without any fees and with their unique Happiness Guarantee, they’ll either replace or refund any bottle you don’t enjoy–so there's no risk!
Dry Farm Wines is one of the only places we know of where you can place an order and be GUARANTEED that ALL the wines you’re buying are safe, natural and free of additives, so to us it's a no-brainer and totally worth the slightly higher price to get this kind of quality.
Whether or not you try out them out, we do hope that you start to look for natural, organic and biodynamic wine so you can enjoy the health benefits without the harmful additives found in modern wine.
Cheers to a happy and healthy holiday season!
Sarah & The Root +Revel Team