Why Are Some Wines More Primal-Approved Than Others?

Dry Farm Wines FinalWine is one of humankind’s oldest and most favorite beverages not for the health benefits, or the antioxidants, or the resveratrol, but because it enhances life. Poets, authors, artists, philosophers, and laypeople across the ages will tell you that wine makes food taste better, promotes richer conversation, unfetters creative expression (a single glass can really dissolve writer’s block), relaxes the racing mind and emboldens the spirit.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed wine with dinner and friends. Usually every night. Not only as a gluten-free replacement for the grain-heavy beer I used to drink to wind down at the end of a day, but as a hedge against the various causes of early mortality light-to-moderate wine consumption seems to protect against. Some of the most recent research suggests that moderate wine consumption may even help against the run-of-the-mill cognitive impairments associated with aging. The mechanisms behind the beneficial relationship of wine and health are not fully understood, but most studies attribute it to the high concentrations of polyphenolic compounds, like flavonoids and resveratrol. Even the alcohol itself has benefits in low doses, increasing nitric oxide release and improving endothelial function. The various health benefits associated with moderate wine consumption were just too well known and numerous to ignore.

But in recent years I began experiencing negative side effects. I was waking up in the middle of the night, and I just didn’t feel well after throwing back a glass or two—even of my favorites. Something just wasn’t right, and I couldn’t ignore it. All the research in the world couldn’t justify a consistently bad night’s sleep.

I wasn’t the only one. From your emails asking for help, I know a lot of you can tell the same story. A love for wine that turned sour once the side effects couldn’t be ignored. I didn’t really have an answer beyond “stop drinking wine.”

So, with a bittersweet farewell, I stopped drinking it.

Until last fall. That’s when I met a guy named Todd White at Dave Asprey’s BulletProof Conference in Pasadena. Todd is the founder of Dry Farm Wines and was providing wine for the conference.

We got to chatting. I told him that I didn’t drink anymore, and why. Todd’s eyes widened. I could see his brain going into overdrive. The dude was excited. I know that look. I’ve had that look. He was emphatic that his wines were different. He’d had the same problem with wine as me. Bad sleep, “blah” feeling, general all-around unpleasantness. He’d loved wine for decades and had been in the wine business for 15 years, but the side effects became too much. So he decided to do something about it and founded Dry Farm Wines. By selecting wines from vintners who used only traditional, organic, and natural winemaking methods, Todd could drink and enjoy wine again without the side effects. He was bringing wine back from the brink of industrialization.

Dry Farm Wines is my favorite type of business. Just like I got into this Primal business to create a system of eating, training, and living that made me happier, healthier, and more productive, Todd created Dry Farm Wines so that he could improve his life and drink wine again. Any entrepreneur will tell you: tons of people have your problems, too. The trick is finding the one that will resonate with the most people.

Now, I was initially skeptical of Todd’s claims. I hadn’t just been drinking 2 buck chuck. Even some of the most expensive, highly-lauded bottles of California cab had left me awake and annoyed at 3 AM. Were Todd’s wines really different?

The way he put it certainly appealed to my Primal sensibilities. Similar to the effect the modern industrialized food system has on those who eat from it, modern wine production may be causing most of the problems associated with its consumption.

“Mark,” I thought. “You’re an n=1 guy. Far crazier things have worked. Give it a shot.” So a couple weeks later, Todd came over to our home in Malibu for a wine tasting. To my surprise and delight, he was right. Not only did his wines taste great and complex and unlike anything I’d ever had, I didn’t experience any of the negative side effects I had with the commercial varieties. My sleep was unaffected. My mood the morning after was positive. After a couple of weeks of imbibing these babies and changing nothing else about my lifestyle, I was a total believer.

I was so appreciative of Todd giving me back something I’ve enjoyed—and confident that you guys would also be interested— that I decided to introduce him and Dry Farm Wines on the blog. Todd isn’t just a wine aficionado. He is also an avid biohacker, fitness enthusiast and nutrition geek. In other words, we really get along and he knows what he’s talking about.

According to Todd, the winemaking process and farming techniques have changed dramatically from the naturally fermented grape juice our ancestors enjoyed. Standard modern wines are now much higher in alcohol, higher in sugar, and filled with chemicals and additives to improve texture, color, and flavor. There are 76 chemicals and additives approved by the FDA for use in wine-making. Of these additives, the FDA bestows upon 38 of them the not-entirely-reassuring acronym “GRAS”—generally regarded as safe. Nice, huh?

Farming practices have been industrialized, too, and conventional wine often contains fungicides, mycotoxins, and phthalates. The wine industry, like most of the agribusinesses in the country, has put profit and palate pleasing above all else. The name of the game is quantity and cost-effectiveness, not quality or nutrition.

The U.S. government also has their hand in plenty of the blame. Collusion between the mainstream wine industry and government has kept nutritional information and ingredient lists off of wine labels. Are they protecting trade secrets? Preserving decades-old family recipes? Nope: they simply don’t want you to know what you’re drinking because the truth is so unappetizing (or worse). From excessive sulfites that keep microbes at bay but often cause headaches, added sugar to increase fermentation, added water to reduce alcohol, grape juice concentrate to deepen the color, fibers and gums to improve texture, antimicrobials like velcorin, added tartaric acid to provide missing acidity, and oak “essence” added because actual oak barrels are too expensive, accurate wine labels would contain ingredients lists far more complex than just “grapes, yeast, sulfur.” Will all those things hurt you? Maybe not, but it’s hard to know when you, well, don’t know what’s in that bottle.

Furthermore, the only requirement the government has for wine labels is that the alcohol content be included. And guess what? Even that’s just a guess. By law, the actual ABV in a bottle of wine can be 1.5% greater than stated on the label. You really have no idea what you’re consuming or how much alcohol you’re drinking.

Since they contain no added sugar to boost fermentation and thus conversion into ethanol, all Dry Farm Wine ABVs are under 12.5%. And because Todd’s team lab-tests every batch, the ABV on the label is actually accurate. Drinking a low alcohol wine makes all the difference in how I feel, both while drinking and afterward. While drinking, I get that gentle lift we all like without crossing the threshold into sloppiness. Afterwards, I avoid the heaviness and foggy dullness. You can drink and enjoy more without increasing your alcohol intake to problematic levels.

These natural wines contain nothing but grapes and the wild yeasts that live on the grapes themselves. As Todd tells it, the farmers that make the wines he carries are nearly all in Europe where the natural wine movement has been growing steadily in recent years. Like many of us, there is a fast growing interest in eating and drinking whole, natural products. Todd describes these natural winemakers as activist farmers and hippies who have a real pride in stewardship of the land. Most of them are multi-generational landowners who are still farming the same vines their parents and grandparents tended. They’re zealots, he says, rebelling against the modern practices they believe have poisoned wine-making. They have respect for and trust in nature and a commitment to craft and authenticity.

In their obsession for letting nature be the guide, all of them employ organic practices that create a “living soil,” rich in nutrients and teeming with beneficial organisms. This includes a rejection of irrigation, which increases yield and sugar content but “dilutes” the quality and washes away nutrients. An irrigated wine will be higher in alcohol but lower in complexity than a dry-farmed wine.

Todd’s wines are 100% dry farmed, which means they rely entirely on natural rainfall. That’s how it’s been done for millennia in Europe. His farmers are non-interventionists and believe irrigation is the first point of intervention in nature’s logic. A dry farmed vine produces a more complex, deep flavored fruit that can be picked when it’s less ripe (and much lower in sugar content). Their use of old-growth vines also improves the quality. The more mature a grape vine, the deeper its roots and greater its ability to draw moisture and minerals from the soil.

The way these wines are fermented is different, too. Rather than use commercial yeasts, Dry Farm Wines are fermented using the wild, naturally occurring yeasts found on the grapes. This lends more complexity and a unique quality that you simply won’t find in the homogeneous 100,000 gallon vat-wine.

But it’s not all tradition and instinct. They require that all of their natural wines meet the following standards and lab quantifications:

Alcohol under 12.5%

Sugar under 1 g/L

Sulfites under 75ppm (very little added, mostly naturally occurring)

Mycotoxin (Ochratoxin A) free

Organically farmed

Dry farmed

Old growth vines (35-100 years old)

Native/wild yeasts

Minimal intervention

Minimal filtering (watch for some bottom sediment)

No chaptalization (adding sugar to the grape must in fermentation to boost alcohol content)

Like the ancestral health community at large, they use science to improve upon traditional ways. Fanatical about lab testing, they are the perfect blend of craft and quantification. I know exactly what I am drinking: what’s in it, what’s not, how it was farmed, and how it was processed. It’s the only wine I drink now.

Anyhow, I’ll get off my new found wine case (get it? That’s like a soapbox, but with wine). If you’re a Primal reader, like me, who enjoys a glass of wine, check them out or look for wine. But if you want to get the most out of it, find a provider that’s local, organic, and dry farmed for all the benefits and fewer drawbacks.

Since Dry Farm Wines is the only wine club in the world focusing on traditionally-produced, dry-farmed wines, I’m happy to support them and their collective of rebel vintners. You could head down to the local Whole Foods or specialty wine shop and try a dry-farmed, natural, organic wine, but I really like that Dry Farm Wines curates their offerings. I have no clue if the dude down at the wine shop knows about the importance of sleep (and the effect wine may have on it) or polyphenol count or resveratrol, but Todd does. He’s one of us. That’s why we’ve partnered to offer a one penny bottle of wine with any club order and free shipping to all my readers. (Full disclosure: If you click that link and purchase something, Mark’s Daily Apple receives compensation. Thank you for your support!) Check ‘em out and tell me what you think. If I can help a few people enjoy wine again, I’ll be happy (at least for the next week or so).

Thanks for reading, everyone. What are your experiences with wine? Anyone else have the bittersweet relationship I (used to) have with it? Find any differences between varieties you drink and the effects you feel later? Let me know in the comments below.

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TAGS:  is it primal?

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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87 thoughts on “Why Are Some Wines More Primal-Approved Than Others?”

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  1. I mostly stopped drinking wine years ago, other than the infrequent third of a glass. Wine is supposedly high in histamines and I have a problem with histamines–at least that’s what I’ve been told. For me, the effects are cumulative. Specifically, a single glass of wine with dinner several nights in a row will leave me feeling like I have a bad head cold. It doesn’t seem to matter what brand or type of wine it is. They all produce the same result. Now I’m wondering if it could actually be something other than a histamine sensitivity–or if a more natural wine is much lower in histamines/allergens. Thanks for the article, Mark. I plan to try the Dry Farm wine, if I can find it here in metro Denver.

    1. Histamines have to do with grape types and their genetics, Dry Farm Wines will not help you with lower histamines. There is so much mis information in the article it makes my blood boil, BTW. Sulphur can be used in the vineyard and still be called organic, sulfites don’t give you a headache, look it up, when grapes ferment they produce sulfites, 75% of the wine growing regions (Napa, Sonoma, Central Coast,Oregon etc.) in the west dry farm. I could go on.

      Most of the histamines reside in the skins of the grapes also, red wines (since they are fermented with the skins) have up to 200% more histamines than white(not fermented with the skins,99% of the time)

      Lower histamine red wines you could try, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Dry Rose, or just stick to white wine and sparkling wines.

      1. So much misinformation in this comment. I don’t think Mark said sulphur was bad; it’s well known to be permitted in organic agriculture. “Sulfites don’t give you a headache” — that’s a pretty bold statement; you can’t possibly know what’s true for everyone, and levels of sulfites matter to those who are sensitive. Yes, it’s also common knowledge that sulfites are naturally present in wine — it is mentioned on the Dry Farm Wines website — but the issue is added sulfites, which some people are sensitive to. More and more wineries dry farm, yes, that’s true and good. You write as though Dry Farm Wines pretended to invent the concept. They did not.

    2. I stopped drinking wine for a couple years because I was having severe reactions to it the day after (worst hang overs of my life from as little as 1/2 glass of red wine). Six months ago I discovered I had an extreme amount of histamines in my blood and went on a low histamine diet. A few months into following the diet, I was able to tolerate a glass or two a week of wine without an acute reaction. If I have more than that the results are cumulative like you. I start feeling ill, exhausted and get an abundance of other symptoms like skin rashes, heart palpitations, sneezing and itchy eyes/ears/nose. Histamines are a big B. I have tried these wines, and can tell you that they have histamines and I react to them if I over do it. BUT other wines seem to make me react even more (from a lesser amount) and I have more severe symptoms. Please note my assessment is only from trying 4 different reds and one of the rose’s. I have ordered the whites and hope the results are better, since I have no business drinking red wine with my histamine issue.

  2. You don’t have to twist my arm. I can’t wait to give one of these a shot. Wine has always been part of my dinner plans, and I try to buy organic whenever possible. But these sound pretty great. I’ll report back!

  3. Now THAT is fascinating, albeit not surprising. With all the junk that’s put into processed food in this country there’s no reason to think that wine (a food/beverage) product would be any different. Good on the farmers who are taking a stance against industrialization–and giving us wine that doesn’t make us sick!!

  4. I was always curious about the histamine point, too. I assumed that if I felt lousy after drinking wine it was “just the histamine.” I didn’t know there was a complex variety of added chemicals that could have been the culprit. I think I’ll have to do my own n=1 with some of these wines.

  5. Praise be to Mark!! I’ve avoided red wine (one of my favorites) for a while now, mostly because of the high sugar content. But if I can get a wine that’s SUGAR FREE, and natural, of course, then I’m game. Woo hoo!

    1. Wait we have a mis understanding, the chaptalization he is talking about is sugar added so the yeast has more food to eat to make more ethanol. It eats most all of the sugar, so wine that is 13% alc, and above, has basically about a half a teaspoon of sugar per BOTTLE or less.

      It might taste ripe but that comes from the climate were the fruit is grown,(riper warmer climate and growing season) and high alc. wines can have a sweetness to them. But that is not sugar. You can find out the residual sugar levels from most winery web sites and sometimes wineries put that on the label. Look for residual sugar by grams.

  6. What does the “generally” in “generally recognized as safe” imply? Seems like a pretty convenient modifier to me. In any case, the fewer ingredients that really have no place other than to make a product more commercially stable/viable, the better. I’ll check out Dry Farm.

    1. My understanding of GRAS is, when they first started it, they wanted a category for things like salt, vinegar, baking powder, that “everybody knew was safe”. It’s very outdated now; as it’s easy to get on the GRAS list.

  7. Mark: As a long time supporter of the “Paleo” regimen I take your advice seriously. I would love to try a bottle of DryFarms wine, however I can’t commit to 6 bottles every other month until I’ve tried one.Can I purchase just i bottle?

  8. Kind of a flowery and romantic way to describe the history of wine but the reality of the popularity of alcoholic beverages would be that it deadens pain (physical and psychological) and it’s free of pathogens. For most of human history we were in constant pain, uncomfortable, and our water supply was very risky. Beer and wine were safe bets if you needed liquid. It wasn’t to make food taste better, increase creativity, or extend your life. Those are just fanciful justifications. It was a beverage to kill pain and avoid parasites. Without that, no one would drink it because it tastes like crap. No one has their first sip of wine or beer and goes, wow, this is delicious. They get high a few times and then their brain learns to crave it, and then it starts to taste good.

    1. well isn’t this just a little ray of sunshine on the whole topic.

  9. re: What does the “generally” in “generally recognized as safe” imply?

    Grandfathered in, basically. As with transfats, it takes a lot of blunt new science to get the FDA to act on GRAS hazmats already in widespread use, and even then it can take decades.

    Heck, they still think grass is GRAS (that would be wheat, for the non-ruminants in the audience).

    Thanks to Mark for bringing this up. I’ll also be keeping an eye out for Dry Farm. I’ve been wondering why the prices of wine haven’t been rising as fast as everything else seems to.

    1. Oy! Good call, Bob. Trans fats are a great example: generally recognized as safe…until they’re not…which may take a while to prove.

  10. “I have no clue if the dude down at the wine shop knows about the importance of sleep (and the effect wine may have on it) or polyphenol count or resveratrol […]”

    I don’t either, but wouldn’t it be awesome if he did? I’d opt for that extensive knowledge rather than a library of terms like “oakey,” “peppery,” “full bodied,” etc.

    No disrespect to my sommeliers out there. It’d just be nice if health facts for each variety were a part of the conversation, too. 😛

  11. I seem to do fine drinking 1/2 glass of good quality red wine about 4 times per week. My housemate, who drinks 2 or 3 glasses per day, buys most of the wine. She has trouble waking up during the night but insists that the wine doesn’t cause that. Hmmm.

  12. I like a lot of this EXCEPT the 12.5 alcohol limit. There are plenty of incredible biodynamic wines in areas like Priorat in Spain, southern Rhone in France (cdp, gigondas, rasteau) and farther south of there in the Languedoc. Many of these warmer climate wines with plenty of sunshine result in very balanced wines at 14% or more that will leave you unaffected the next day. I’ve experienced all this myself.

    1. Yep, sugar content of grape juice is determined by grape variety and climate. There can easily be enough natural sugar to push alcohol over 12.5%, depending also on the yeast.

      Not saying that the wines mentioned in the article actually are, but they theoretically could be, and many naturally produced wines (and other fruit based fermented alcohols) are.

  13. I’m all for organic, traditionally produced wines. However, a few years ago I was researching how much alcohol it would take to kill pathogens in water. (Brewers of “small beer” [low alcohol content] in London were not affected by cholera outbreaks because they were drinking the small beer and not water from the wells.)

    What I found was that from the time of ancient Babylonia nearly all, if not all, societies prohibited drinking undiluted wine. Part of this reason had to be for health reasons as some laws demanded 20 parts of water to 1 part of wine. Hebrew priests were forbidden from using strong drink in their ceremonies. There were no distilled spirits at that time so strong drink had to refer to undiluted wine.

    The Greeks considered anyone who drank undiluted wine to be a drunkard. The Roman felt much the same way. No where in the ancient world was is considered proper to drink undiluted wine unless one was a drunkard or a barbarian.

    Gee, I hope that doesn’t pop anyone’s balloon when they are enjoying a glass of their favorite wine today…undiluted to be sure.

    1. Fascinating–I think in the Odyssey it describes “mixing the water with the wine” as well. Sounds like it was more for safety and moderation than for diluting a very strong drink.

    2. I learned here in MDA about diluted wines and this comment is very instructive, matches what I read in historical/alternative novels like The HouseHold Gods from Turtledove

    3. Or perhaps it was a way to stretch limited resources and like a lot of other things it became law, (that of course benefited somebodies pocketbook:-)

      1. Actually, if you read primary sources, it is quite clear that drinking undiluted wine was frowned upon because it was considered immoral in almost all ancient civilizations.

  14. California has plenty of vineyards and winemakers that care about what goes into the bottle, you just have to look around. The winemakers making Zinfandel blends from some of the ancient vine plots are really into the farming and minimal interference aspect. And their stuff actually tastes good.

  15. I drink about 1/3 of a bottle of red wine every night, and sleep just fine. However, I also live fairly primal in that I habitually eat right (organic when possible) and work out at least every other day. Also I buy pretty good wine in the $15 range and never cheap stuff like Sutter home, yellow tail, Woodbridge, oak leaf, etc.

    I’m open to trying organic wine anyway, although it’ll have to be conveniently located at either a local wine store or whole foods type place. And it’ll have to be in my price range and taste good for me to keep buying it. I’d capitalize on the online order offer, although those usually don’t come without future recurrng revenue commitments, memberships that are a pain to get out of, etc.

  16. I make some blueberry wine I get from my blueberries every year. It provides the same benefits as normal grape wine, but with a boost in anthocyanins! I make it myself because I’ve only found one company that makes blueberry wine and it’s not organic, blueberries are generally a high pesticide crop. Like grape wine blueberry wine gives you the all important revatrol. Marginally less then grape wine but with the quantum leap in anthocyanins it all equals out, possibly greater. Back in my late 20s when I was still for the lack of a better term “naive” I made a mourning glory infused wine and a cannabis infused wine, both are illegal in most states and for obvious reason I’d advise against it.

    1. Blueberry wine? That sounds AWESOME!! I always try to get blueberries and red wine into my diet because of the health benefits of each (plus I enjoy them both). So that sounds like a match made in heaven. 😀

    2. Prairie Berry winery in Hill City, SD makes two really good blueberry wines – one dry and one sweet-ish. The dry blueberry wine is the best fruit wine I’ve ever tried. in past years, they’ve been able to collect enough wild grapes, buffalo berries, and choke cherries to make excellent wine from them too. If you ever find yourself in the Black Hills to visit Mt. Rushmore and all the tourist traps, stop in for a tasting.

    3. I may try to make a batch of chokecherry wine if i have a good chokecherry year, my mouth is puckering already 🙂

  17. The Dry Farms website appears to be down at the moment.
    will try again in a bit. Good article! I generally drink mid-priced wines, around $15/bottle. I’ve always found that some wines (usually the cheaper ones) will give you a hangover or headache, and others won’t. Now I know why.

  18. Thanks, Mark, I’ve been wondering how your abstinence was going! My frequent glass of red is something I’ve not been keen to give up, and it hasn’t been interrupting my sleep– but we do tend to drink organic wines already, like Bonterra and a few others. WIll check out Dry Farm WInes.

  19. Hallelujah! I read Mark’s article detailing his experiment with giving up alcohol and his subsequent decision to remain alcohol free, with curiosity and a sense of dread. I was experiencing most of the same ‘symptoms’, but I really loved my nightly 2 glasses of wine. Warily, I decided to use the excuse of Lent to run my own n=1 alcohol experiment. Now 41 days later I have had to admit that I am sleeping better (I have cats so I’ll never get an actual fully undisturbed night of sleep), my digestion seems to have improved, and I’ve lost inches around my midsection. I’m also enjoying waking up without that foggy feeling that was all too common even with only 2 glasses of red wine. I’ve felt so good overall that I have been considering relegating alcohol to the ‘special occasion’ tier of indulgences. Now, reading today’s article I’m wondering if I can find these magical Dry Farmed wines and include them (in moderation) into my diet again. I’m willing to go the extra mile both literally and figuratively, to be able to once again taste the delicious fermented gift of Dionysus. Thanks for the information Mark!

  20. Try Coturri Wines, also dry farmed, also California (and a favorite among many great restaurants in the Boston area). A real joy to drink. I buy all my wine from a small shop in Cambridge, MA (Violette Wines) from a guy who is committed to and sells only biodynamic and organic wines (CA, France, Italy) and I totally agree with everything Mark Sisson says about sleep and how I feel after drinking these 100% grape and-nothing-but-the-grape wines.

    1. Thanks for the tip! Boston resident here, I’ll definitely be checking that place out!

      1. Just a heads-up; the owner, Richard, is not your typical sales type, but once he warms up to talking and sees you’re interested in these kinds of wines, he is a world of information and insight into just the kinds of wines that MDA is talking about. “Natural” in the true sense and meaning of the word. Good luck!

  21. Great column!

    We’ve had problems with commercial wines as well. It’s not just one brand or another, and it seems to be more pronounced in the past few years.

    I’ve been making my own beer, wine and mead for over 20 years. Even the all-juice (more expensive!) wine kits have changed, especially the reds.

    I don’t make wine anymore. Neither does another man I met, who had similar experiences.

    I stick to mead now because I know what I put in it (naturally carbonated ginger mead can be like champagne!).

    Theory I heard: people aren’t allergic to peanuts (rare when I was young), they are allergic to some change in peanut processing in the past couple of decades.

    Same thing with wine, as Mark notes.

    Same thing with wheat, it’s not the same as it was 40 or 50 years ago. Corn, junk food, healthy food, meat, dairy.

    Is it something more than pesticides and growth hormones?

  22. I enjoy about 4 glasses of red wine per week without any problems. Many wines I do get are from Garagiste and are Bio-Dynamic, but some are not.

    Has anyone out there tried Mead? That is wine made from honey. I have not tried it.

    1. There’s quite a few really good meads out there. I prefer it to wine mostly. It’s pretty easy to make yourself too. It’s been getting really popular, a couple of local grocery stores have started carrying it in my area. A good brand is Korzenny

  23. Very intriguing — my wife ordered a selection of 6. Obviously we have been in the same predicament for some time. Does anyone know of a reliable list ofother wines which adhere to these guidelines?

  24. I drink half a glass of organic red wine most evenings, if I drink even very expensive commercial wine I get a headache. The Dry Farm Wines sound like even a step above that. Will check them out, I would be interested in buying a case from time-to-time, if it’s only available as a club I’ll have to ponder that.

    Another great article Mark, thanks!

  25. Really interesting. I’m not a big drinker but enjoy having a glass of wine or two now and then with a nice meal. Sometimes I feel great the next day, sometimes I wake up with a headache. These sound great. Thanks for the info Mark!

  26. Yes Mark!

    Not a big drinker but always enjoyed a glass of “good” red with dinner. Not too far into my foray with wine I discovered the sleep disturbance effect and other mildly unpleasant (a few hives on various body parts) effects, not every time but often enough to make me give it up.

    This (Dry Farm) was great news for me because I do miss the flavor and general feeling of well-being that I used to get from a very small amount of a tasty brew. I’ll certainly be looking for this. What a great find!! Thank you!

  27. My nutritionist once told me that trusting the FDA (or the USDA or any other government agency) to watch out for our health was a concern, and that GRAS should actually stand for Go Right Ahead Stupid.

  28. I stopped drinking wine a couple years ago due to finding out about the additives. I now enjoy a dram of nicely aged Scotch in the evenings to unwind.

    1. Same here (almost)
      The Scotch transmuted into vodka (not always) , Brandy and Gin show up often
      Main minor difference:I keep the glasses of wine

  29. I am not at wine level of a connoisseur (but have friends at that level)
    My favorite is the Australian Shiraz with the yellow kangaroo label

  30. Great post Mark! I too have recently cut my wine consumption down to 1-2 glasses, a night or two a week, due to sleep issues. My wife and I noticed that when we are in Italy or France, we don’t have the sleep or hangover problems. We did notice the alcohol levels are typically lower overseas, but now wonder if there’s an additive issue as well.
    Guess we’ll just have to make more trips to Europe to order cases of wine!

  31. Couldn’t I get most of the benefits of red wine by just eating grapes? Or red wine vinegar maybe? I’m uninterested in (totally against) consuming alcohol ever.
    Also, anyone here had problems with joint pain after eating dark chocolate? I recently got into it and was eating the brand chocolove, I got up to 80% and started having really bad hip and knee pain immediately after eating it. It sucked ’cause I was really enjoying my newfound love of dark chocolate.

    1. I think the resveratrol and the alcohol (blood thinning properties) along with some other factors contribute to the positive benefits of modest consumption of wine. So no, don’t think grapes alone would do the trick and I doubt that you would consume a glass of vinegar right? 🙂

      I’m also wondering if there is a socio-economic factor, people who tend to drink wine statistically are in a higher income bracket, have better access to health care, tend to eat healthier etc?

      If you took some high quality resveratrol supplements and maybe fish oil capsules to keep inflammation down and the blood thinned, along with other healthy lifestyle choices you would simulate the benefits of drinking wine I think.

      Sorry to hear about the chocolate trigger, that’s wild, I eat one square a day and have no problems other than controlling the urge to pop another one or two into my mouth lol.

  32. This sounds great, unfortunately I live in a state that does not allow alcohol shipments legally. Any suggestions for brands I might be able to find at my local liquor store?

    1. hi please post your state, to avoid moving to it (just kidding!)
      my preference: the australian wines with the kangaroo

      and for anybody who reads the other posts: I don’t work for them, just drink their wines 🙂

      1. Thanks, I’ll take a look at them. I am in Kentucky, and we have weird shipping laws, can’t use the major shippers, can only recieve direct shipments from certain small wineries, and no retail shipping.

    2. I spend time in Utah and they don’t allow direct to consumer wine shipments. I will say the State stores are pretty well stocked and not unreasonably priced.

  33. Definitely feel you on the bittersweet relationship with wine. I stopped drinking wine regularly maybe 7-8 weeks ago, when I was previously going through a bottle a week.

    It’s tough because I love it, and I have twin toddlers – so wine is the logical answer to handling many of my daily stressors. But, I wasn’t feeling so hot after drinking it anymore. I actually notice I get congested when I drink wine or hard cider – which I heard could be due to the sulfites? Either way, I feel much better not drinking it regularly and just enjoying it on social occasions.

    However, you will never see me give up my coffee! 🙂

  34. 🙁 First olive oil, and now wine. Honestly, I don’t know what the heck to buy anymore, or who to trust. It seems that not even price is a good arbiter of quality, since even “the good stuff” is apparently adulterated. Maybe it’s time to learn how to ferment my own grape juice at home. 😉 (And invest in an olive orchard whose owners I trust!)

  35. Just signed up. Not sure I will stick with it but I am proud to support something that has the same values as me and is fun to drink. I can see my wife and I getting 3-4 shipments and then opting out; not really a big drinker. Will be curious to see if they are as easy to get out of as they were to get involved with.
    So far very impressed with the customer service. Hope I like the wine!

  36. Looks like these wines would also be acceptable to vegans.

    Most wine, and other spirits use animal products in the processing so are off limits.

    Most of the research, when you dig deep enough, finds it is the alcohol with the benefits. Red wine is no better than white wine or other spirits. Assuming you don’t drink the spirits with soda, or have a sensitivity to gluten in beer.

    The amount of resveratrol in red wine is so minimal you would have to drink multiple cases a day to get the benefits touted from research. You can get more in a handful of raisins.

  37. I think the low sulfites is the key. Na2SO3 or sodium sulfite is used to kill yeast and is used as an added preservative. It also prevents that fine bottle from turning into vinegar. They use it to clean beer tap lines at bars. Too much and you will have a real skull thumper. Naturally produced wine has a 12.5% alcohol content because that is the level where yeast dies off from swimming in its own excrement. I understand, California does not allow wine to be imported to the state unless it is labeled, contains sulfites. I don’t get headaches or lose sleep overindulging with French Burgandy. I think they put “Contains Sulfites” on the bottle just so they can sell in California. It would be nice if producers labeled the ppm. I believe the brand Mark mentioned has 75pp. I believe popular California Reds are around 400 ppm. As with anything primal, minimally processed is always best.

  38. I’ll drink to that. I too nearly stopped drinking, due to residual and negative side effect as described, but, I am OK with traditionally made french and Italian wines and very particular Zinfandel from California. High alcohol and sugar content by the way, is also the result of very warm climate. As for additives etc’, it’s simply a matter of greed and laziness; the food industry case in point. Why should a winery trouble itself with carefully creating a unique bland (or single), or except what mother nature dealt her that year, when it can mimic another wine or create consistent wines year after year by using artificial additives? Especially, if there’s a market for it. And by the way, grapevines aren’t the only one benefiting from not watering (known as baal agriculture) – so are olive trees and other edible goods. Olive oil (and olives) extracted from trees that really on rainfall only, would be tastier and with higher antioxidants; even if the water has high salt content. And, resilient and drought resistant, due to healthy root system that relies on deep ground water.

    P.S. It would be nice if Dry Farm Wines would list it’s wines by name rather than post a picture. I am across the ocean, so obviously can’t place an order, but it would be nice if I can look them up at my local wine shop.

  39. Question: if a wine is organic, could it still have those unnecessary additives? What can we look for when shopping without the expensive subscription package? I’m interested in giving the wine a go, but don’t know that I’ll go through 6 bottles a month or even 2 months.

  40. Tried to order but live in Hong Kong. You don’t ship outside of the US?

    1. Also in Hong Kong. I recently ordered some organic/biodynamic wines (after seeing Todd’s interview with Abel James) from ‘cork culture’, just opened the first one tonight and no complaints so far.

      As you probably know, decent wine (not to mention decent food) in HK is extortionate. In fact, mediocre wine is often extortionate as well. Even the duty free shop is a total rip-off. For sub $200HKD a bottle, I’d highly recommend trying a few of them out. I was almost on the verge of giving up on wine here and just drinking $30 maekgoli from City Super.

  41. Is Todd White a grower, producer, and marketer of his product…or is he a distributor of diff wine growers of the …dry farm ilk?
    I have been looking for his label….?..

  42. I to have stopped drinking high alcohol content wine. It never made me feel good, usually just the opposite. I will give these types of wine a thorough try. Thanks Mark!

  43. Great information.

    I have definitely noticed significant difference between wines, assuming there were additive differences. It is nice to know a reliable source to avoid this.

    There was a table wine which when I first tried, I loved. I ended up buying a dozen bottles of it for a discounted price, only to learn this particular wine always caused me to feel lousy the next day. Fatigue, headaches, groggy, etc. I still have the bottles sitting in my cabinet, untouched for the past X years.

  44. Alcohol may not have any benefits after all:

    See research:

    Previous meta-analyses of cohort studies indicate a J-shaped relationship between alcohol consumption and all-cause mortality, with reduced risk for low-volume drinkers. However, low-volume drinkers may appear healthy only because the “abstainers” with whom they are compared are biased toward ill health.


  45. I started getting an extremely itchy nose from drinking wine. I noticed it would happen when I drank California wine, but not from European ones. I thought that maybe since wine production in Europe is more traditional that it possibly had less additives than the California ones. Now I’ll try a California dry farmed one and see if there’s a difference.

  46. I have an allergy to brewer’s yeast (and bakers yeast) and have determined I cannot drink wine (or use vinegar!) due to the added yeasts. I am under the impression that natural yeasts are not an issue for me. It sounds like these wines do not have added yeasts. I’m not sure if I missed it but are there certain types of wines that typically have naturally occurring rather than added brewer’s yeast?

  47. I tried this wine based on Mark’s recommendation. I thought the price was really high for 6 bottles, but I’m okay paying a premium for “good wine”. I use quotations here because that’s not what I received.

    $170 would have been better spent starting a fire because that’s how much enjoyment I received for the price I paid for the WORST wine I’ve ever tried.

    Completely undrinkable. Disgusting.

    I’ve never had that reaction to a wine before. Two buck chuck is a treat compared to this.

    I understand there is a palette adjustment for wines manufactured in a different way than mainstream vino, but this is not what’s called for with Dry Farm Wines. Nothing short of a palette lobotomy is necessary to get through a glass of this stuff. We’ve opened 3 of the 7 bottles we received, and so far our kitchen drain has enjoyed all of them.

    What a waste of $$.

    1. I have to agree. I started with a 6 pack in the spring of 2017 and only a bottle of two were so so, but felt the rest were okay. I upped to a 12 pack in Aug 2017. Most were undrinkable. So sad! I love European wines and low alcohol wines, but these were just barely acceptable for cooking. Not sure what happened!

  48. searching “on the ground” for dry farmed or “European natural” style wines, we kept being told that “most European wines” are made the “traditional” way and should have the same benefits as the wines offered thru Dry Farm. com….is this really true?

  49. Any suggestions?
    I’m not an alcoholic and don’t drink 6-12 bottles of wine a month.
    I came here for at least one suggestion and am coming up empty handed here.

    1. Anyone know of or have a list of dry farmed, traditionally made wines we can shop for?
      From the comments we have:

      CoturrI, from California

      Garagiste, parts unknown.

      Maybe we can start one

  50. I had the same problem with wine years ago, which is why I stopped drinking wine. Although, I did find that when I drank the wine from a particular vineyard in Italy, I had no problem whatsoever.
    My Father-in-law get his wine from a vintner in Sam Damiano, near Asti, Italy. He’s an old friend (Father-in-law is 82…) who he’s been buying from for maybe 50 years. He and my mother in law, (They’re Italian, so we go to visit once a year) go to the man’s home every year and bring along their 20 liter containers and fill up several and pay about one euro per liter. (Wish we could find that in this country. Hrmpf!!) Then they take it home and bottle it themselves. Made from grapes and nothing else. All natural as they like to tell me.
    This is by far the best red wine I have ever drunk. And I experience no ill-effects the next morning or day or ever.
    It has made me a believer in drinking wine, as long as you know it’s source. I won’t drink American sourced wine unless I can find the same results, which, up to now, I haven’t found.
    It was refreshing to read this article Mark. It confirmed my suspicions about the wine form the US. That and a sommelier from Prime Steak at the Bellagio once told be about all the additives put into some of the biggest name wine makers in California. When he explained it to me, it all made sense why I had such awful reactions to the wine I had been drinking for years. Ignoring the results.
    Good one!

  51. I’m not a natural wine drinker & I do prefer a lager. I live in Australia & the Lager I have always preferred is brewed in the state of Queensland, (I’m in New South Wales). It’s called XXXX GOLD Brewed by Castlemaine Perkins, who’ve been around since the 1880’s. The Lager outside its home state comes in a 375ml can, 3.5% ALC/VOL, Carbohydrates 7.1g, Sugars 0.5g, No Preservatives. In Queensland it can be bought draft over the counter in your local Pub.

  52. Dry Farm Wines sounds wonderful, but sadly — tragically! — I now live in Utah, the only state that prohibits shipping wine directly to consumers. It would be a great service to drinking Utahans if someone would publish a list of wineries that make wine fitting the Dry Farm Wines criteria that I could take with me to the state liquor store, the only place I can buy wine. Thanks!
    PS Utah has several fine breweries and distilleries, but not a lot of wineries.

  53. I live in Arkansas where, sadly, I cannot receive wine shipments. I am heading to Napa in February and would love to hit wineries that fit with my keto lifestyle. Can you recommend any? Can you recommend any specific wines that I might try to procure locally???? Thanks,