What is Natural Wine?

O.K., folks- keep your shirts on. Natural wine is one of the most-debated subjects in the field, and blows have been struck by many an aficionado as wine is drunk, and tempers flare.

We’ll try and leave emotion out of the discussion- good luck with that!

The term ‘Natural wine’ conjurers up visions of health, organic foods and idyllic vineyards where producers and nature live in harmony. It’s meant to do that of course- there’s a huge market for wine that’s associated with a modern, healthy, mindful life and emphasizes images of farmers with placid horses- not harvesting machines shaking grape bunches in an industrial vineyard. 

The difficulty arises because there really are no hard and fast rules to promoting a wine as ‘natural.’

If you buy a bottle with ‘biodynamic’ or ‘vegan’ printed on the label, you can be pretty confident that's what they are, as there are several licensing organizations that require growers and winemakers to adhere to specified production methods that reflect the goals of those terms.

‘Natural’ wine, on the other hand has no such organizations or legally specified methods. At this point, it’s purely a marketing term that may or may not reflect the expectations you may have about how the wine was produced.

That being said, many growers and producers have a genuine and binding philosophy which lends itself to the term ‘natural.’

Sustainable farming practices without excessive chemicals in the vineyard are often used in ‘natural’ winemaking. Less intrusion into the fermentation process, and a more relaxed attitude about filtering are often goals of a ‘natural’ winemaker. A wine drinker can generally expect less added sulfites and little barrel aging  with ‘natural’ wines. 

Remember- most wine producers out there are more interested in providing a bottle which genuinely meets those varied expectations than running a ‘natural’ wine scam.

It’s just that in today’s wine world, it’s the wild west with labeling  ‘natural’ wines- no rules at all!

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