What is Natural Wine?
With the organic wine craze taking the industry by storm, there are many options for sustainable sippers.
While it’s true that all wine is made from grapes, not all wines are created equally when it comes to sustainability.
Today, we’re looking at what sets natural wine apart from conventional wine.
Definition of Natural Wine
Simply put, natural wine is unadulterated fermented grape juice that goes through the winemaking process without any additives.
Natural wine is also referred to as “raw wine,” “low-intervention wine,” or naked wine. This means there has been little to no unnatural intervention from harvesting to the actual winemaking.
Natural winemakers tend to harvest by hand and grow grapes without herbicides or pesticides. The grapes are usually grown on a small scale and allowed to ferment naturally with native yeasts as opposed to added yeasts.
Natural wines also contain little to no sulfites, which have been rumored to cause headaches in some, although there is no scientific evidence.
Now that we know what natural wine is, let’s delve into some of its history.
History of Natural Wine
Many believe the natural wine movement may have started in the Beaujolais region of France in the 1960s when several winemakers known as “The Gang of Four” sought to produce wine according to the teachings of Jules Chauvet and Jacques Neauport. These two oenologists strived to craft a wine with fewer additives.
Unfortunately, many still have a tough time pinpointing one definition of natural wine, as there isn’t an official set of guidelines.
In the mid-20th century and 1980s, fads like natural wine and sulfur-free wine boomed in popularity in Beaujalois.
With sustainability becoming an ever-growing need in today’s wine industry, natural wine has come to the forefront once again.
There’s more than just natural wine on the sustainability scene. In order to fully understand natural wines, we need to understand organic and biodynamic wines as well.
Is the Wine Natural, Organic, or Biodynamic?
Before you start seeking out a natural wine bar in your area, there are a couple of things to consider. Natural wines are one thing, but there are also organic and biodynamic wines to consider as well.
The reason these differences matter is that all natural wines are organic, but not all organic wines are natural wines.
Here’s how to spot the difference:
Natural winemaking is a generally unregulated process that refers to a wine made with low levels of human intervention. There are no pesticides, and the wine producers allow natural yeast to kickstart the fermentation process as opposed to incorporating additional yeast.
Natural wines come in an array of flavors and styles, just like conventional wine. They’re available in red wine, white wine, and even orange wine, so there is no shortage of selection to suit your fancy.
This type of wine is often cloudier in color as the sediment hasn't been removed using a fining agent like eggs or shells, both of which are animal products.
Due to lower or no sulfites, most natural wines are meant to be enjoyed young. Without these organic properties, natural wines don’t age for as long as conventional wines.
Organic wines are those made from grapes free of man-made pesticides that have achieved certain certifications. In the United States, organic wines must be from grapes grown in pesticide-free soils and certified organic by the USDA.
Organic wine is made without sulfur dioxide.
Developed by philosopher Rudolf Steiner during the 1920s, biodynamic winemaking stands as a spiritually guided philosophy that regards the vineyard as a harmonious, self-sustaining ecosystem. Rooted in a deep connection to nature, this approach adheres to the rhythms of the astrological calendar.
Is Drinking Natural Wine Healthier?
While natural wine may appear the healthiest option on any wine list, there are a few things to consider. It's true that natural wines won’t contain those harmful chemicals and unwanted yeast, but there could still be unregulated proteins and bacteria that may not be better for your health.
Since natural wines aren’t regulated like organic wines are under the USDA, certain chemicals may still be present.
What Does Natural Wine Taste Like?
Regarding taste and texture, natural wine may contain some sediment and particles, making the texture a bit thicker than conventional wine.
Overall, it may be best to sip natural wine under the guidance of a professional winemaker or sommelier for the best experience.
Where to Find the Best Natural Wines for Sipping
Some of the most popular locations for sipping natural wine in the United States include New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago. However, you can likely find natural wine just about anywhere.
All you have to do is visit the nearest wine shop closest to you and ask the professionals working there. They will know how to point you in exactly the right direction. Seek labels like “minimal intervention,” “unfined/unfiltered,” and “natural winemaking techniques.”
Before you go, don’t forget to visit Macy’s Wine Shop for some of the best wines at unbeatable prices.
For more deep dives about the wine world, visit The Wine Blog and discover the secrets of your favorite sippers.
Thank you for choosing Macy’s Wine Shop, we hope to help you find what you’re looking for!