If you have been drinking or at least have a slight interest in wines, you’ve probably heard about ‘natural wine.’ It’s making rounds in the industry, and you need to understand what this is, what it is all about, and if it’s worth the hype. This post will tell you everything there is to know about natural wine.
What is Natural Wine?
Simply put, it’s a type of wine that undergoes extremely minimal processes to the point that it is considered unfiltered. This means that the wine doesn’t contain chemicals and pesticides. More often than not, it is grown on a smaller scale and by independent producers. Instead of using machinery and other equipment, grapes are handpicked carefully. In addition, natural wine is commonly fermented without yeast, and there are no additives.
Depending on the producer, they may add little to no sulfites to the process. Oak-aging isn’t typically used as well because natural winemakers believe it can affect the natural flavor of the grape. As for the taste, do not expect that it will resemble what conventional wines taste like.
Take note that the real definition of natural wine remains debatable. Some people say that this concept should strictly mean that nothing must be added or taken away from the winemaking process. On the other hand, others believe that it is ok to add sulfites as long as it is extremely lower than what is found in wines sold commercially. Thus, natural wine is sometimes called naked, raw, or low-intervention wines.
But just recently, the French authorities have agreed on a legal definition of natural wine. And now, brands could use a logo on their bottles – proof that it is indeed natural. Still, we believe that this whole concept will have an ongoing discussion in the coming years.
Now, natural wine is different from biodynamic and organic wine, and most people use these terms interchangeably. As always, it is good to know the difference.
When we say organic wine, this refers to the grapes used in creating the final product. As the name suggests, they only use organically grown grapes. Unlike natural wine, organic wines use additives such as egg whites, yeast, and animal enzymes.
An important thing to note is the difference between the organic wines from the US and organic wines from Canada or Europe. When an organic wine is from the US, it means that it doesn’t contain sulfites. The ones that you can purchase in Canada and Europe may contain added sulfites. For those who are not aware, sulfites are essential to prolonging the shelf life of your drinks.
When creating a biodynamic wine, a producer uses farming practices that treat the entire vineyard as one solid organism. They use a self-sustaining system that is deemed to be more eco-friendly.
In this process of winemaking, one is not allowed to use artificial fertilizers or pesticides. Animals are used, such as horses and ducks to fertilize the land hence creating a healthy environment for the vines.
Producers also use a biodynamic calendar where the winemaking tasks are divided into four types of days. We have the root days, flower days, fruit days, and leaf days. This concept entails a more thorough discussion, but for the purpose of this section, let us briefly describe each.
For example, you are already in the fruit days. This means the tasks you need to complete are associated with harvesting. As for the leaf days, it’s when you water your plants. On the other hand, root days refer to pruning. They consider the lunar calendar and astrology in creating wines, which makes it even more interesting.
To date, there are around 700 producers of biodynamic wines around the globe.
Natural Wine History
While it only became popular in recent years, natural wine is not new. History has it that the natural wine movement started more than five decades ago in France. At that time, four winemakers wanted to bring back how their grandparents originally made wine before chemicals and pesticides came into the picture. These pesticides have taken the world by storm after World War II. Thus, affecting the overall process of winemaking.
At the early ages of the natural wine movement, Villié-Morgon was the hotspot for natural winemakers. As the years passed, the movement spread to other areas of France. Fast forward to present times; you will see many wine bars and restaurants all over the globe offering natural wine in their list. This is definite proof of the increasing demand for this type of wine.
Current Trend on Natural Wines
Some people claim that natural wines are overrated. However, experts believe otherwise. The popularity of natural wine could be attributed to more people wanting foods and drinks that contain fewer additives. It’s one way to live a healthier lifestyle.
Remember, natural wines are more than just a fad. It’s a practice that has a long history, arts, and science behind it. It’s always good to go back in time and create wine like what older generations did. It’s simpler and more authentic.
But given our current global condition, it may not work for other regions and populations where the number of diseases is high. Nevertheless, natural wines have joined the mainstream. It was in the 2000s when natural wine importers started to gain traction in the US. And by the looks of it, it is here to stay.
Famous Natural Wine Bottles
If this will be your first time having natural wine, of course, we want your experience to be as good as possible. Thus, we have here a list of the best natural wine bottles that you can try out for yourself.
MacRobert & Canals Laventura Garnacha
Many natural wine enthusiasts know MacRobert & Canals, and this speaks a lot about the quality of their wines. It’s the ideal choice if you wish to pair it with lamb. Or if you are searching for a decent natural wine within a reasonable price range, Laventura Garnacha will not disappoint.
Tenuta La Favola Bianco
The Tenuta La Favola Bianco has a softer taste and could work well with salad and fish. It is also known to stimulate one’s appetite. To date, Tenuta La Favola Bianco is one of the most economical natural wines available.
The Retsina Tetramythosoriginated from Greece, and has that herby and mild pine flavors. They use superior roditis grapes and traditional clay jars to ensure the quality of their wines. The best part is, Retsina Tetramythos is just around $16.
Domaine Mouthes Le Bihan L’aimé Chai
If you want a natural wine with that dark fruit flavor, this could be a great option. Because of its affordability, many people consider Domaine Mouthes Le Bihan L’aimé Chai as an everyday wine.
Meinklang Pinot Noir Frizzante Rosé
Your quest to find the perfect natural wine for all occasions is over. We present Meinklang Pinot Noir Frizzante Rosé. Do not be confused as some markets label it as Frizzante Rosé while others name it Prosa. It has that distinct crisp taste, which makes it irresistible.
2Naturkinder Drei Freunde
For those who are after a natural wine that leans towards a dry apple taste, 2Naturkinder should do you good. But you have to remember to store it properly because it is extremely raw and could spoil quickly. You can find more of our tips about natural wines in the next section.
Choosing and Handling Natural Wine
When purchasing natural wine, it is better to source it from a local retailer. This is to avoid transport spoilage. If your natural wine does not contain sulfites, we recommend drinking it within one year of purchase. Thus, it is always better to ask the ingredients of your wine first. Most importantly, keep it away from direct light, including fluorescents and LEDs.
Is Natural Wine Better for Your Health?
Some people say that natural wines are better for you because it use fewer additives. That is true. However, it is not always the case. Remember that natural wine is unfiltered and impurities will remain inside the bottle. Also, the native yeast could result in an increased amount of Tyramine, which is proven to cause headaches. Lastly, this type of wine is sensitive and must be handled with utmost care.
Is Natural Wine Eco-Friendly?
More people support natural wine because the process itself is considered eco-friendly. It’s a small step that could protect our planet. According to reports, large wineries are the biggest polluters in France. But since natural wine starts with organically or biodynamically grown grapes, it becomes more forgiving to our environment.
Natural wine has a lot of benefits. Apart from bringing us to our roots, it gives us raw products that are environmentally-friendly. The trend is helping small winemakers too, and the limited-production also gives us that unique taste and experience.
However, we have to be cautious. Since there is now a legal definition of natural wine, big companies might use it to their advantage. Quality and authenticity might be jeopardized as well. Hopefully, strict regulation and implementation will be put in place to maintain the natural wine movement.