Everything You Need to Know About Natural Wine
Natural wine? Isn’t that like kind of like “natural water”? It should already be natural!
Well, yes and no.
The term “natural wine” can be a confusing one, especially considering it’s grouped in with a handful of other terms that also signify a green approach to winemaking.
After all, what’s the difference between natural and organic? And what about biodynamic?
As you might have guessed, the answer’s a bit complicated. While “natural wine” doesn’t necessarily mean that other wines are “artificial,” a glass of natural vino might line up closer to your definition of the ideal wine.
Read on to learn all about this loaded term and why you might want to seek out a natural wine for your next glass of mouthwatering vino.
What Is Natural Wine?
Unfortunately, there’s no regulation around the term “natural wine” and different winemakers have wildly different interpretations of what “natural” really means. In general, though, natural wine is designed to take the winemaker out of the equation as much as possible, opting for wine with minimal intervention from the natural fermentation process.
The Oxford Companion to Wine defines natural wine as:
- Grapes are grown by small-scale independent producers
- Hand-picked from sustainable, organic, or biodynamic vineyards
- Wine fermented with no added yeast or other additives
- Little or no sulfites are added
Additives allow a winemaker to alter the flavor and aroma of wine after the grape has been harvested. There are over two hundred additives allowed in traditional winemaking and dozens might end up in a single sip of conventional wine.
Natural wine is made with organic grapes and very few added ingredients. It’s designed to grow with far less intervention from the winemaker when compared to conventional wines.
For many, once they have their first sip of natural wine, there’s no going back. Before you seek out your first bottle, let’s dispel some of the misconceptions around natural wine.
Is Natural Wine the Same as Organic Wine?
Organic wines are more likely to qualify as natural than natural wines are to earn the organic certification. Why? Let’s break it down.
“Natural wine” as a term isn’t regulated. “Organic wine” is. To earn the organic label, winemakers have to pass certain regulations dictated by their specific state.
It costs a chunk of change to earn organic certification, and many smaller vineyards don’t want to pay the admission fee. So, if a wine is labeled as natural, it very well may be organic as well.
The only way to find out for sure is to conduct your own personal research.
What about Biodynamic Wine?
The label “biodynamic wine” is even more heavily regulated than “organic wine.” To be considered biodynamic, most wines must be certified by reliable third-party agencies like Demeter International and Biodyvin.
These wines are grown on vineyards that operate according to the lunar calendar and divide their farming days according to the four classic elements of the Earth: earth, water, fire, and wind.
If you’re seeking out truly eco-friendly wine, a certified biodynamic wine is an easy bet. If you’d like to try a natural wine, do a bit of extra research to see how the natural wine’s vineyard differs from the growing practices of a conventional vineyard.
Is Natural Wine Better for You?
After all, natural fruits and veggies are better for you than a cupcake or an Oreo. Shouldn’t natural wine be healthier than conventional wine?
It doesn’t quite work like that. Your liver doesn’t care whether your alcohol intake comes from natural wine or conventional wine. It’s still a caloric toxin, and drinking one glass too many can still leave you with a poor night’s sleep and other undesirable side effects.
However, seeking out natural wine does likely mean that you will be ingesting fewer trace pesticides and additives. Ultimately, when compared to conventional wine, natural wine is likely better for your conscience and taste buds than it is for your waistline.
How Does Natural Wine Taste?
Most natural wines have a cloudy appearance and taste a bit gamier than conventional wines. They’re typically less fruity, smelling a bit like yogurt with stronger notes of yeast. It’s safe to say natural wines can be considered an acquired taste, but many of the best drinks are.
Here are some examples of natural wines you might want to check out
- Orange Wine: Using ancient techniques found in Italy and the Balkan region, this white wine is made in a similar process to red wines. The skins and seeds macerate with the grape juice for longer during fermentation, giving this wine its distinct orange hue and hazy taste.
- Col Fondo Prosecco: If you love Prosecco but also enjoy the occasional funky flavor in your wine, you’re definitely going to want to try out this natural sparkling wine.
- Pétillant Naturel (or pét nat): Using the oldest sparkling wine method known to man (appropriately named Méthode Ancestrale), this pét-nats wine finishes fermenting inside the bottle, infusing the liquid with natural carbonation and delightful crisp bubbles.
If you prefer a cleaner, fruitier profile to your wine, you can certainly find a more conventional-tasting natural wine. Though, if you haven’t tried the bolder flavors of the best natural wines, your palate might be missing out.
Go Natural with Wine Insiders
While natural wine is growing in popularity it hasn’t quite reached every corner market yet. If you live next to a major metropolitan area, it’s going to be easier to find a bottle. Just look up natural wine near me and you’ll find yourself in a world of complex flavor with a long-standing connection to the earth.
Of course, we love providing eco-friendly wine right on Wine Insiders. Browse our extensive selection of organic bottles and other eco-friendly options to treat your taste buds to a more natural-tasting vino than your palate’s used to.
While you’re waiting for your brand-new bottle to arrive, look through our blog to learn all there is to know about the wonderful world of wine.