You have probably heard of natural wine. It became trendy in many wine bars and wine shops a few years ago. The ones that tend to showcase non-mainstream varietals and wine regions…the kind of places wine nerds like us love to visit! However, we have started to see natural wines pop up in more mainstream locations in the past couple of years. In case you are wondering what exactly a natural wine is, Wine Curations is here to help!
Natural wine by definition is wine made from unadulterated, fermented grape juice. This means the wine does not have any pesticides, additives, added sulfites or added yeast. Wines have been made this way without additives for thousands of years. Why the big deal now?
Conventional wine (non-natural wine) can have a lot of intervention and help along the way. There may be pesticides used in the vineyard to protect the grapes. The winemakers may add sugar or acid to make their wines fit a certain flavor profile. Plus, many wines are made with added yeast to control the fermentation process. This is because native yeasts in the vineyard can be riskier since they may not even start fermenting.
In the US, winemakers have a list of over 60 additives that they can legally use in winemaking. These additives may help ensure a more consistent product year after year or they may help keep the products shelf stable.
Many people are more conscious of what they put into their bodies these days, which is why organic foods has been a growing trend for many years. Natural wines “naturally” follow this same trend. Also, with global warming and consumers becoming more conscious of their footprint, natural wine is also a nice fit since they do not use pesticides and the wineries tend to be very sustainable in their practices.
Since natural wines tend to be unfiltered (to avoid using additional products in the wines), they tend to be cloudy. This leads some people to think they are unclean or funky. While some natural wines pride themselves on being funky, this is not the case for many. For the conventional wine drinkers, there are plenty of comparable natural wines out there.
It is important to note that all organic wines are not natural and all natural wines may not state that they are organic. In many countries, the wineries have to pay to have those designations on the wine label. Many smaller wineries practice organic and/or biodynamic farming but do not spend the money to have the certification to put on the label. On the other side, some wineries may be organically farmed and pay for the certification but then add sulfites and yeast to the wines. This causes a lot of confusion for consumers. Our best advice is to speak with your wine shop owner or restaurant sommelier. They will usually know in which direction to point you.
While you may be seeing more natural wines than you use to, we think this is a trend that is here to stay and will continue to grow in the next few years. If you are interested in trying some, send us a note and we will help!