Nature is a thing of beauty, as is wine. When the natural approach to making wine is enlisted, a rather unique and expressive version of fermented grape juice is the result. While it is currently on an upward trend among buyers and consumers alike, this style of wine making is not new, and it can even be traced back to the eighth century BC. Natural wines are, in short, a result of minimal intervention from the winemaker, and they are quite unlike other wines on the market. Moreover, in drinking these wines one may even feel as if the juice is alive on their tongue. Pretty cool, right?
As with any classification regarding style or production, there are variances that lie within, and not every bottle of natural wine is going to taste, or even look the same, for that matter. There are, however, consistencies within this natural approach, among them being: hand-picking grapes (as opposed to by machine) that are free of pesticides or herbicides; no additives such as sugar, egg-whites or acids; including native yeasts into the fermentation process; and using a significantly lower amount of sulfites, and sometimes none at all. Sulfites, for that matter, are added during winemaking for the purpose of stabilization and to help preserve a wine from completely falling apart once it is opened. By comparison, natural winemakers use approximately 10% of the sulfites that the conventional producers will use. Additionally, producers might also refrain from filtering or fining their wine.
Again, the product and approach will certainly vary from winemaker to winemaker, and in turn from wine to wine, so its best to go in with an open mind and little-to-no expectation for what you’re about to experience. Though if it may seem that the term ‘natural’ is just another buzz word that has seemingly latched itself onto some of our favorite consumable crops, exploring the world of natural wines is highly recommended, especially when considering the ever-increasing emergence of such producers around the world. Contrarily, natural wines may not appease everyone’s palate (they can be weird). It is also worth mentioning that the expected shelf-life after opening the bottle is different for natural wines. How the wine tastes immediately after being opened will certainly be different from how it tastes after a day or two of sitting on the shelf (not as alive and assertive) – pro tip: commit to drinking the whole thing in one sitting, though this might require the help of friends, or at least lofty ambitions (we prefer the former but there’s no shame in the latter).