The term “Natural Wine” is so popular among the wine lover circles nowadays, including me. However, “Natural Wine” has not yet well defined, and this term becomes a marketing keyword rather than a certification.
We know wine is natural anyway. The process of fermentation turns the sugar in grape juice into an alcohol and carbon dioxide. After this process, you can call the remaining liquid to wine. It’s natural. On the other hands, if the scientist combines alcohol, water, color, and flavor to make a beverage. They cannot call it wine, even it tastes like wine.
If all wine is natural, what is mean “Natural Wine”? I quote following definition from Wikipedia: “Natural wine is wine made with minimal chemical and technological intervention, both in growing grapes and making them into wine.” OK. However, what this means? Is Natural Wine taste better? What benefit to the wine lover? I have tasted some claimed as Natural Wine before, to be honest, some wines are not present on both aroma and palate. Actually, the winemaker needs even more effort, skill, and bold to produce a good Natural Wine.
I do not intend to explain too much on natural wine as there are many good books on the shelf from the authors with this expertise. However, I do want to share my personal view on my selection of wine.
The vineyard is playing a vital role in winemaking. Organic certified will be a good start. However, some winery is following organic farming parties but has yet certified. So, do ask more question on the use of Herbicide, insecticide, and chemical fertilizers. If you have the chance to visit the vineyard, take a look at the soil. If you see insets, grass and wildflower grow next to the vine, you know this winery is on the right track.
If the winemaker told you that they don’t add yeast to start fermentation just the wild yeast on the skin of the grapes. I am sure the vineyard is in good shape, and they are not using herbicide kind of chemical product as those products will kill the wild yeast. Study shows wild yeast is the crucial factor of showing the ‘Terrior‘ in the wine.
Use of Sulfurous acid (H2SO3)
You usually find the sentence “Contain Sulphur” on the back label. In the conventional winemaking process, sulfurous acid will add to protect the wine from oxidation and microbes attack. Some research shows a high concentration of sulfur in the wine will cause a headache. In both organic and biodynamic practices, use of sulfurous acid is allowed but in very constraint amount. A lot of ambition winemakers work hard to avoid adding any sulfurous acid in the wine. I still find it difficult to get the sulfur concentration on the wine label, even the winery website. But the wine does not contain sulfur usually will be mentioned 🙂 Remember “Natural wine ≠ no sulfur” do more research before you buy.
I choose the wine I drink or I import mainly according to the above point. Sometimes I encounter even not certified but after the winemakers explain to me what they treat the vine as well as in the cellar naturally, I have more confidence on the wine.
This are the books I am reading:
1. What’s So Special About Biodynamic Wine? Thirty-five Questions and Answers for Wine Lovers by Antoine Lepetit de la Bigne
2. Natural Wine – An introduction to organic and biodynamic wine made naturally by Isabelle Legeron MW
Check our store for Organic wine from Spain here!