A PCOS Diva’s Guide to Choosing Wine [Podcast]
If most wine bottles had a contents label on them, they would look just like the rest of processed foods that you purchase. It would have a rectangular rather deep label of contents, most of which you couldn’t pronounce or would have any idea what they were even if they were safe or not. – Todd White, founder of Dry Farms Wine
Being a PCOS Diva is about creating a sustainable, healthy lifestyle that can help manage symptoms and heal your body long term. If somebody told me that I could never enjoy a glass of wine with a good meal or a special occasion, that just wouldn’t be sustainable for me. There must be room in the PCOS Diva lifestyle for an occasional mindful indulgence. So, when PCOS Divas ask me if it is ok to have a glass of wine, my answer is YES, in moderation of course, but we also must be PCOS Divas about the wine we drink. Listen in (or read the transcript) as Todd White, founder of Dry Farms Wine explains how to choose the healthiest possible wine and shares some of the commercial wine industry’s “dirty little secrets.”
For more on the benefits of red wine for PCOS, read “Is Red Wine Good for PCOS?”
All PCOS Diva podcasts are available on
Mentioned in this podcast:
- SPECIAL OFFER: Get your 1st bottle of Dry Farm Wine for 1 cent at http://www.dryfarmwines.com/pcosdiva
- Benefits of resveratrol
- Dr. David Sinclair’s book, Lifespan: Why We Age – and Why We Don’t Have To
One of the questions I receive most often is, is it okay to drink wine when you have PCOS? If you follow PCOS Diva, read my book, or done an online program, then you know that being a Diva is about creating a sustainable, healthy lifestyle that can help manage symptoms and heal your body long term. So if somebody told me that I could never enjoy a glass of wine with a good meal or a special occasion, that just wouldn’t be sustainable for me. There has to be room in my lifestyle for a mindful indulgence. So my answer is we can have our wine in moderation of course, but we also have to be Divas about the wine we drink.
Last summer, I was at a health conference and had the opportunity to listen to a wonderful lecture on organic and natural wines, and I had the opportunity to sample some of these really delicious low-sugar wines that are also friendly to low-carb, paleo, ketogenic, and low-sugar diets. It sounds pretty PCOS diva friendly, doesn’t it? I learned so much from the speaker that I begged him to come onto the podcast to educate you too. So today, I am so thrilled to have Todd White, the founder of Dry Farm Wines on the podcast today. Welcome, Todd, to the PCOS Diva podcast.
Thanks, Amy. I’m super excited to be here. Thank you for having me. I’m really excited to share what we call some of the dirty, dark secrets of the wine business.
Yeah, and those dirty, dark secrets were really surprising to me and I feel like I’m pretty attuned to what’s going on in the health industry. This is something that really I missed on my radar. So I’m glad that you’re here to educate PCOS divas. You are a writer, a speaker, and a leading authority on healthy organic natural wines and the importance of micro-dosing alcohol for health, longevity, and vitality. I think the thing that I was kind of surprised about was the name of your company, Dry Farm Wines. I thought it was just sort of a fun, catchy name, but there is a reason for that. I thought maybe you could start by kind of giving us the background of why you chose that name for your business.
Well, dry farming simply means farming without irrigation. All right. So in America, more than 99.9% of all vineyards are irrigated and that causes a whole bunch of problems. Irrigation is bad for the planet, it’s bad for the vine, and ultimately it makes the wine a lot less healthy. It reduces the polyphenols such as resveratrol and other flavonoids and anti-flavonoids that impart health properties and compounds in wine and particularly red wines. So irrigation, we could spend our whole 30 minutes talking about the irrigation alone and why it’s bad, but we don’t accept any wines that have been irrigated, any fruit that has been irrigated in the wines that we purchase.
Again, it’s bad for the planet, unnecessary. Irrigation didn’t get introduced to grape farming in the United States until 1973. Prior to that, all vineyards were also dry farmed. The most common reason that you hear, in California particularly, about why vines are irrigated is because it’s hot and dry. Well California has been in a drought for quite some time, almost seasonally. Preservation of water is a great idea, but the fact of the matter is that that statement that it’s hot and dry here, and they even teach it at the foremost oenology school in the United States, the University of Davis, California which is the most famous and best oenology school in North America, they teach that irrigation is necessary for grape farming.
That’s simply not true. Grapes have been growing all over the planet for more than 10,000 years that we are aware of, for more than 10,000 years without irrigation, and grapes today in some of the wines that we drink, as an example, from places like Sicily in Italy where it is much hotter, much drier, and much more rocky, much more volcanic than the soils here. Same thing in Greece and other places where you find kind of extreme, extreme environments of temperature and heat. So anyways, completely unnecessary.
I do want to go back to the alcohol comment because I like to start here. You mentioned micro-dosing alcohol and it surprises a lot of people. I think the most surprising thing people hear from me are two things. Our wines are sugar-free and they’re like, “Well how is that possible?” And I’ll tell you about that in a moment, but probably the single most important thing that people are surprised to hear is the wine guy saying that alcohol is a very dangerous neurotoxin and a very destructive drug and one that we have to tend to carefully think about and think about how we consume wine and think about the types of wine and the alcohol levels in the wine that we drink. The fact is, from our perspective, lower alcohol wines taste better. They make you feel better. They are friendlier with food and less toxic.
So that’s why we put an alcohol cap of 12.5%. American wines, most of the ones you’ve seen in the grocery store are between 14% and 16% alcohol. Wines we sell are between 7% and as high as 12.5%. Most of the wines I drink are between 9.5% and 11% alcohol because I liked the taste of that wine. I like the style of it and it’s also much friendly with food and I can drink more wine with less negative impact.
The thing that PCOS Divas are concerned about is certainly the inflammation that’s caused by alcohol. A lot of women with PCOS have fatty liver so we have to be careful with consuming too much alcohol to put too much stress on our livers. So I think the fact that your wines are low alcohol is certainly really appealing to me.
It’s very important. Look, I could make the statement that my life might be better served, my health could even be better served in some ways if I didn’t drink at all, but the fact is I love wine and I drink a moderate amount of low alcohol, pure natural wine. I feel great. I have no negative remnants, no hangovers, no brain fog, none of the things associated with traditional wine drinking. So, I’m not here to say that wine drinking is great for your health. I’m here to say that if you’re going to drink wine, and I am, I have no intention of stopping, I’m going to drink wine, I’m going to drink the best, healthiest wine that I can get.
I want to talk a little bit about what that means, and we’ll talk about what the difference between natural wines which is an international category of wine. There’s no certification for it, but it has a definition that’s generally well understood among the wine community across the world, but here’s the problem with commercial wines. When you go in the grocery store or when you see all those bottles and all those hundreds or sometimes thousands of bottles of wine on the long grocery store shelf or in a bottle shop in a wine store, the problem with those wines are twofold. First of all, the wine industry has got some dirty, dark secrets that they’ve been successful hiding from you, many of which you heard me speak about and will tell your audience about it now. And then number two, there’s been massive corporate consolidation in the wine industry that’s very similar to our food supply.
So, there’s about 10 companies in the United States that supply almost all of our food products in one way or another. Right? And so the same thing has happened in the wine industry. Massive corporate consolidation through greed and money, right? And so the top three wine companies in the United States produce 52% of all the wines you see on the shelf. Now, you don’t know that because they’re very clever, sophisticated, multibillion-dollar marketing conglomerates, right? So they hide behind tens of thousands of labels and brands to confuse consumers. They want you to believe that you’re drinking from a farmhouse or a chateau when in fact you’re drinking from massive wine factories located in central California producing millions and millions and tens of millions of cases of wine out of these factories.
So, the top 30 US wine companies make over 70% of US wines on the shelf. The problem with that is that these conglomerates are not trying to make wine healthier or better. They’re trying to make it cheaper and faster, and they use a lot of additives and chemicals in that process, not only in chemical farming but also in the cellar to reduce the risk of bacterial infestations and other things that are risk to the seller. So they use these chemicals. Here, the wine industry has been very successful keeping these additives secret. Now, everything I’ve told you including the size of the wine industry, who’s in it, who controls it, all this is available online as well as what I’m about to tell you about the FDA-approved additives. Right?
The wine industry has been very successful until I came along and told a few million people about this. There are 76 additives approved by the FDA for the use in wine making. You can search FDA wine additives online. It’ll take you right to the list. Right? So there are 76 additives approved by the FDA for the use in wine making. Some of them are natural, some of them are not, and four of them are quite toxic like ammonia phosphate or dimethyl dicarbonate. Dimethyl dicarbonate is highly toxic and if you were to drink, it would kill you. If you get it on your skin, it burns you, and if you breathe, it’ll burn your lungs. It’s used to treat tens of millions of gallons of California wine every year under the chemical brand name called Velcorin. Now, Velcorin is used to treat the single most common bacterial fault in wine known as brettanomyces.
That being said, here’s the problem. The wine industry has spent tens of millions of dollars through lobbying in Washington, DC to keep contents labeling off of wine bottles. They don’t want you to know what’s in it. So I don’t want to drink dimethyl dicarbonate. I don’t want to drink glyphosate which is the active ingredient in Roundup commonly found in industrially farmed wines. If you decide to drink glyphosate or dimethyl dicarbonate, that’s up to you. I think you should have the choice to know what’s in your wine. Right? Which is why we do independent lab testing on every wine that we procure, drink, and sell. I drink the same wines that I sell. So the problem is that the industry is not only blocked nutritional information so you can’t see how much sugar is in a bottle of wine, and it can be quite high, right? So not only have they blocked nutritional information from appearing on wine like carbohydrate or sugar, but they’ve also blocked very successfully for a long time, they have blocked contents labeling.
If most wine bottles had a contents label on them, they would look just like the rest of processed foods that you purchase. It would have a rectangular rather deep label of contents, most of which you couldn’t pronounce or would have any idea what they were even if they were safe or not. Right? And so what natural wine is, and this is how natural wine differs and less than one-tenth of all wines in the world are natural because it’s very difficult to make natural wine. It’s also risky meaning you are at risk for all of these bacterial faults you’re not using chemicals to correct, and it’s also more expensive to farm without irrigation. You also get lower yields without irrigation, and it’s cheaper to farm with chemicals industrially. So organic farming, which also creates higher polyphenols like resveratrol or higher in organic, higher in dry farmed, these are scientific facts, not my opinion. There are studies published on this.
When we choose a natural wine, we’re getting a wine that is, in our case, dry farmed. It is farmed organically or biodynamically. Biodynamic farming is just a prescriptive form of advanced organic farming. It is also very importantly fermented with wild native yeast. And what does that mean? How you make wine is that sugar … This is also wine gets to be sugar-free or not. I’ll explain all this kind of in one fell swoop along with why red wines have higher polyphenols than white wine and why red wine also contains exclusively resveratrol. No resveratrol in white wines. I’m going to explain all of that in the following. Sorry to be pushing all the you and then I’ll break for a question if you have any, but since we have 30 minutes to record, normally I do an hour, hour and a half on this topic. There’s a lot to learn.
So, in the fermentation process, natural wines are fermented with wild native indigenous yeast. The yeast is indigenous to the vineyard where the grape is grown. So on the skin of every grape berry in the world at the time of harvest, it has a waxy kind of covering on it. It looks waxy, but it’s actually yeast. It’s been collected through the air. It’s a natural process. Natural wine makers ferment in what’s called a spontaneous fermentation, ferment natural wines utilizing only this wild native yeast. Commercial wines, on the other hand, are fermented with genetically modified lab-grown cultured yeast. Now why do they do that? Again, it’s about money. You can’t make natural wine in very large quantities. So nobody in the natural wine, no natural wine grower is getting rich. They’re small family farms that are living a passion and a dedication to a natural way of living. You can’t make any money making natural wine because you can’t make natural wine in very high volume because working with native yeast is very temperamental and difficult. It has to be coddled and watched very closely.
These genetically modified commercial-grown yeast that are grown in laboratories are modified to be very sturdy and very strong so they’re not as temperamental as a native yeast. The other thing is that the lab-cultured yeast are modified to withstand a high alcohol environment, typically around 18% or 19% before they will die. Native yeast will die at a lower alcohol or die at a much lower alcohol. Because of irrigation, again, we can go into irrigation is leading to much higher alcohol levels and the reason being … And this goes into how you make wine. The reason irrigation is leading to much higher alcohol levels is because when you have an irrigated fruit, you have to pick it later at higher sugar levels in order to develop proper flavoring because it’s been pumped full of water.
Now why has it been popped full of water? Because grape berries that are filled with water weigh more and fruit is sold by the ton. So again, it’s back to money, right? And so the higher the sugar level is at the time of picking … It’s called Brix is the official sugar level in grapes. The higher the Brix is or the higher the sugar level at the time of harvest will determine the outcome of the end of fermentation alcohol and here’s why. Alcohol levels are tied to sugar levels because when you make wine, you inoculate the sugar-filled juice. So grape juice is teaming with sugar. It’s very sweet and then it comes in contact with the yeast and the yeast eats the sugar once the yeast activates, once you get to a temperature level that the yeast will activate just like when you make bread or something, right? Yeast has to come up in temperature before it will activate. Once it activates, the yeast starts eating the sugar. It’s food for the yeast and the result of that, the byproduct of the yeast eating the sugar is carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol and that’s how you make wine. Right?
So natural wines are fermented with this wild indigenous yeast, commercial wines with a genetically modified lab-cultured yeast. Then to carry on about how wine becomes sugar-free or not is if the wine maker allows the fermentation to complete. What that means is that the yeast are allowed to eat all of the available sugar and then at that time, the yeast will die from a lack of food source and the wine becomes sugar-free. That’s called a full fermentation. What’s happening in commercial wines because Americans like sugar and sugar adds density wines is that the wine maker uses sulfur dioxide to kill the yeast prior to it completing fermentation leaving what’s known as residual sugar or RS in the industry behind in the wine. That’s how sugar gets in wine, by breaking the fermentation before the yeast eats all of the available sugar. It’s a wine making style and it’s quite common particularly among commercial wines.
So now to finally finish the wine making lesson is how red wine gets its color and its increased polyphenols and flavonoids. Red wine gets its color not from the juice, but contact from the skins. So if you were to ferment, if you were to squeeze the juice of a white wine grape and you were to squeeze the juice of a red wine grape, they’re both clear. Red wine gets its color and its tannic structure and its increased polyphenols from contact with the skin. And so when you make red wine, you press the juice off which is clear, it goes into a tank, and then you take all the skins and seeds and you add those into the tank. Then they macerate for some period of time depending upon the wine maker’s style as to how long the skins stay in contact with the juice.
But that’s how red wine gets its color. It’s from the skin, its tannic structure from the seeds and the skin, and its increased polyphenols from the seeds and the skins. The difference in polyphenols, I’m wrapping up here between red wine and white wine, white wine has just over 200 polyphenols and flavonoids, anti-flavonoids and red wine has almost 900 including the most famous which is resveratrol. I know that was a long-winded answer, but I wanted to be able to squeeze in kind of the important facts about wine making.
Thanks so much, Todd, for that explanation. I thought that that was so enlightening. I know it really changed the way that I view purchasing wine. I just wanted to remind PCOS Divas about the benefit of resveratrol for PCOS symptoms. Now, resveratrol, as Todd mentioned, is a polyphenol that’s found in red wine as well as peanuts and other berries, but resveratrol helps with insulin resistance and it also is an anti-androgen and it helps to decrease androgens. So you would have to drink a lot of wine to get to some of these benefits, but I think the thing that I find interesting is the way that you explained the way that natural wines are made. It naturally increases the level of resveratrol over commercial wines.
Yeah. So that’s just one of the other benefits of drinking it. I think, Todd, that’s sort of a theory of what scientists have been looking at, that French Paradox. How is it that French eat that diet high in fat, but have a lower incidence of heart disease? And I know that researchers wonder if it’s just the resveratrol in the red wine that they consume.
Yeah, there’s been a lot of discussion about it. I mean the most famous, the person best known today in doing the latest research on resveratrol and who has been a huge resveratrol proponent is Dr. David Sinclair who just released a new book that has a tremendous amount of resveratrol information in it. So I think he’s at Boston College. He runs the research department there. But anyway, we don’t really know. I mean the wine industry jumped on resveratrol as a cure-all without really sufficient evidence and in fairness. So we don’t really yet know fully the benefits that resveratrol imparts because it just hasn’t been enough studies on it. The studies that we’ve seen with respect to longevity have been in lab mice and in very, very high quantities of resveratrol. So the jury is still a little bit out on its full benefits, but I’ll say drinking more red wine can’t hurt you as long as it’s natural and low alcohol.
Exactly. And so since I listened to your talk last summer, I’ve bought several cases of your red wine because I love red wine. I was a little afraid that the lower sugar and the low alcohol would sort of change that full-bodied flavor that I enjoy, but I can tell you that the wines that I’ve tasted, now I think I’m probably through at least 20 bottles sharing it with friends and family, that I am not experiencing that at all. I’ve really enjoyed your wines and my guests have too.
Yeah, they taste different because, you see, when you remove sugar and glycerol which is a high sugar byproduct, when you remove glycerol and sugar from wine and when you lower the alcohol significantly as we do, then it does change the taste of the wine because alcohol adds density to wine and sugar adds kind of mouth feel, but the fact of the matter is once … My experience and the experience of thousands, tens of thousands of other people who have written us about this, once you … In fact, we have a term for it. we call it getting JJ’d, right? And we met at JJ Virgin’s health conference. So JJ, when she first started drinking our wine, she had been previously dating a Napa Valley wine maker and she liked really, really big bold red wines. Our wines don’t taste like that, right? They don’t taste like that, but once she started drinking our wines on a regular basis, she found that she couldn’t go back to drinking her standard commercial big cabernets. She didn’t like the taste of them or the way they make you feel.
Most people don’t know how wine is really making them feel because they just think that’s what wine makes you feel like. Right? But when you lower the alcohol and get rid of all these toxins, the buzz is actually more energized. It’s fresher. It’s more creative. You stay cognitively connected. It’s a different experience than drinking a higher alcohol commercial wine which also contains other additives and toxins. So it’s completely different experience. It does taste different. We think it tastes better, right? And so it’s a terrific experience.
I know we’re coming up on time. I did want to announce a special offer for your audience. We’ll send them a penny bottle of wine. We can’t give it away for free, and we don’t do discounting because we pay farmers, small family farms, fair trade pricing and we believe it’s very important to support small family farms. Our wines are not expensive for handcrafted wines. They’re very affordable. All wines are the same price. Our wines are $25 a bottle and we pay for shipping. Shipping is quite expensive because wine is heavy. So it’s not out of the reach of most consumers, and for people who care about what they put in their body, it’s a good value. So natural wines fortunately are not expensive, but we’ve got a penny bottle offer for your audience and they can go to dryfarmwines.com/pcosdiva and they’ll find an offer there for a penny bottle.
Oh, thank you. That’s excellent. I really love how you also have these kind of fun boxes. I know I got a box around Thanksgiving with handpicked wines, and I’m seeing that you’re offering boxes now from different regions of the world and that’s kind of fun to sort of experience wine from, say, Argentina or New Zealand. And so I really encourage listeners to check out Dry Farm Wines and try an order. I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed. One thing that I noticed is sometimes when I would have a glass of wine, it would really interrupt my sleep during the night, and I don’t experience that when I drink these natural wines. I do wake up without any feeling of fatigue that I might have if I had a glass of really high sugar, high alcohol commercial wine. So that’s something that I personally have experienced.
It’s completely different and it’s shocking the difference in how you feel and sleep. It’s literally … Which is why hundreds of thousands of people now are drinking our wines, and we do independent lab testing as I mentioned. There are no additives in them. They are just 100% natural product. It’s just extraordinary how they taste better, they’re friendlier with food, and most importantly, they’re healthier and you just feel better. But thanks for having me on the show today, Amy. I look forward to seeing you again.
Yeah, thank you, Todd. And thank you for everyone listening. I look forward to being with you again very soon. Bye-bye.