Going au naturel in the wine department isn’t as risqué as it sounds, however you'll be liberated and rewarded just the same.
Advancements in technology have changed the face and taste of modern-day winemaking.
Additions such as sugar, cultured yeasts, additives, and even Mega Purple - a wine concentrate - are included at various times throughout the process while impurities and flaws are stripped away by egg whites, dairy, or even a sturgeon's dried swim bladder. These alterations are intended to improve taste, appearance, color, and clarity in your favorite glass of wine.
Luckily, there is a new buzzword in the wine community. Natural. Unlike many trends that come and go, natural wine is here to stay.
Why? The answer is simple, it never left. “Natural” wine has existed since time immemorial, or about 8-9,000 years ago.
What constitutes as natural wine is not always clear, even the vintners have trouble coming to an agreement. While there is no legal definition, the general consensus is that it must follow these basic guidelines:
- Grapes are grown using traditional organic methods (often times biodynamic).
- Grapes must be harvested by hand.
- No additions or subtractions. (In some cases, a minimal amount of sulfur may be added during bottling, totaling no more than 20-50 ppm - and even that is debatable.)
Essentially, what it comes down to is that natural wine is made in the vineyard, not the cellar. Naturally occurring yeasts and sugars present at harvest time will be all the wine ever has. What this results in are crisp, fresh, and unique wines suggestive of the land and environment it comes from.
Fortunately, for wine drinkers, we have the ability to chose what and how we drink. Whether it is a Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley or a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, what matters most is that you enjoy what you drink!