Raise a glass to organic grapes: a recent study has found that eco-certified wines are rated higher by professional wine reviewers than regular wines.

A UCLA study containing an analysis of 74,000 blind taste-tests by professional wine reviewers shows that eco-certified wines get higher ratings than regular wines; additional research shows it’s often cheaper, too.

The study, published in the Journal of Wine Economics, looked at reviews and scores for more than 74,000 California wines from the magazines Wine Advocate, Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator. On a standardised 100-point scale, eco-certified wines scored an average of 4.1 points higher. The standardised scale controlled for differences between the scoring systems - for example, easy graders versus hard graders.

“The bottom line is that however we look at it, we find that organic and biodynamic farming has these small but significant positive effects on wine quality,” said lead author Magali Delmas, a UCLA environmental economist and professor in the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Though the paper studied only California wines, the research team expects the results to apply broadly. The preliminary findings on a study looking at French wine show similar results, added Delmas.

“Wine makers say it’s better for the quality of the wine,” Delmas said. “It’s a purer taste with more sense of the terroir, because when you replace pesticides with labour, you have hands-on care for the vines and you improve the composition of the soil and you get back all the life - the microbes, insects, bees and worms that you need in agriculture.”

While Delmas’ previous research has shown that vintners’ top motivation for using environmental practices is to improve the quality of their wine, it’s of course not the only reason. Particularly at family farms, where the owners plan to pass the property on to their children, a key motivation is to provide a cleaner environment for future generations, her research has found.

So drink up your eco-wine, red or white. It’s good for the environment, cheaper than the alternative - and science shows it tastes just a little bit better.