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A Beginner’s Guide to Natural Wine

Get to know about natural wine including what it is, how it differs from conventional wine, and how it grew in popularity.

A beginner's guide to natural wine
Credit: thenaturalwineshoppe.com

If you’re in the loop of wine news, I’m sure you’ve heard of natural wines. As some of the trendiest wines on the market, natural wine has captured the attention of wine enthusiasts worldwide. When I first heard about it, I was hesitant to try it, yet curious to understand what the hype was about this mysterious wine. Its appearance cloudy, the colour vibrant, and the taste unusual in comparison to conventional wines. For those interested in understanding what natural wine is, how it differs to conventional wine, and how it grew in popularity, I’m about to unpack a whole new side of the wine world here.

What is Natural Wine?

what is natural wine?

Natural wine is unrefined wine made in a historical, traditional process that has been around for thousands of years. Essentially, it’s wine free from pesticides, herbicides, additives, and sulfites. Some people may describe it as “raw”, “naked”, or “low-intervention” wine. Made from organic or biodynamic grown grapes that are hand-harvested, natural wines ferment using native yeast on the skin, skipping the filtration and clarification processes of conventional winemaking. Little to no sulfites are added to the wine before bottling. With minimal intervention and small-batch production, natural wines are labour-intensive in nature.


What Is The Difference Between Natural Wines And Conventional Wines?

What is the difference between Natural Wines and Conventional Wines?

While conventional wines are refined, natural wines are the unrefined, raw version. You’ll find that a conventional wine has a clear colour and balanced taste whereas natural wines are cloudy in appearance and contain a more sour taste and funky aroma.

With that being said, it can be surprising the amount of chemicals and additives that are used in producing conventional wine. Besides pesticides and herbicides that are commonly used in farming practices for fruit, a lot of additives are added during the winemaking process to clarify and enhance its profile. Synthetic yeast is added to wine to start the fermentation process, while ingredients like egg whites are used to clarify the wine (which is why wine isn’t vegan unless stated). Also, sulfites are added to wines for preservation.


This is not to say that all the practices of modern winemaking are bad. It’s necessary to have this process to ensure a wine is refined and carries a consistent taste year after year that consumers enjoy. While the list of additives in conventional winemaking can be extensive, drinking wines from appellations ensures that the winemaking process has fulfilled a certain standard of quality and unnecessary additives like acid, oak flavouring and sugar are not used.


How Has Natural Wines Grown In Popularity?

How Has Natural Wines Grown In Popularity?

Natural Wines have been around for thousands of years, yet have grown in popularity only in recent years, largely fueled by health trends promoting less-processed and environmentally-conscious consumption. As the average consumer becomes more discerning of the origin and ingredients in their food and drinks, natural wine has emerged as the authentic way wine is grown and produced. For people who get wine-induced headaches, the minimal sulfite content of natural wine offers an enlightening alternative (although there is no scientific evidence that the sulfites in wine cause headaches). With the growing demand, we’re seeing larger producers attempting to produce natural wine, eager to cater to evolving tastes and preferences. Often marketed as the “healthier” version of wine, natural wine captures the curiosity of wine enthusiasts globally.


Closing Thoughts

red wine glass in a vineyard

Natural wine is a unique style of wine that is in its own category in the experience it provides and simply can’t be compared to conventional wines in the same manner. For those curious to try natural wine, I’d absolutely support you in your venture to do so, whether it’s at a local wine bar or with one from the liquor store. Keep in mind that most orange wines are natural wines, so the most convenient way to try a natural wine is to taste an orange wine. If this blog led you to try natural wine, be sure to leave a comment on your experience with tasting it.


Have a great weekend. Cheers!


Citations

Bull, M. (2019, June 10). Natural wine, explained. Vox. https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/6/10/18650601/natural-wine-sulfites-organic


Day, A. (2022, June 27). Natural wine 101: An explainer on low-intervention wine. Food & Wine. https://www.foodandwine.com/wine/what-is-natural-wine


The natural wine shoppe. TNWS. (n.d.). https://thenaturalwineshoppe.com/


Puckette James, M. (n.d.). What really is natural wine?. Wine Folly. https://winefolly.com/deep-dive/really-natural-wine/




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1 Comment


Guest
May 19

I have to say that your page is not very accurate. Specificslly in regards to mentioning eggs as a filtration medium. There are at least 2 other mediuma you have not mentioned, like pea protein, and moreover you didn't mention that it is a minotiry of producrts that still use eggs as a filttation medium

In addition, it is a relatively new research that has shown that it is not sulphites that cause the headaches but thr acetaldehydes,tannins and quercetins.

You did quote your resources. Please do recheck your statements next time. Otherwise it is misleading and innacruate.


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