Natural Wine, So What Actually Is It?
09 Feb 2022
Fermented Grape Juice
Rather confusingly; there is no true universally accepted definition of what makes a ‘Natural Wine’, and depending who you ask, you may get slightly different answers. For those of you who’d prefer a more direct explanation; consider the below points that really offer the long of the short - for more specifics, come by the shop and speak to Mike!
Natural wines all abide by the following ‘rules’;
- Only Organically-farmed or Biodynamically-farmed grapes are used (though no certification is required to be classed as a natural wine).
- The use of only natural, indigenous, wild yeasts for fermentation
- Using no added flavour enhancers (ie. Sugar, Acid, Tannin etc. etc.)
- Limited use of filtration, if any
- Using very minimal, if any, sulphites during either production or bottling
Isn’t that how all wine is made?
Well yes and no. Yes, all wine is a result of grapes being fermented and turned to wine, but conventional wine (the opposite to Natural/what you find in the supermarket) is manipulated. Packet yeast, filtering, adding tannin, acid, sugar are the tip of the iceberg. This ‘recipe’ winemaking is intensive and works well for large volumes. To be viable for the large companies, that $10 bottle from Countdown needs to be one of millions.
So what’s the fuss about with Natural?
There are many reasons for journeying down the natural wine rabbit hole. Aside from the obvious environmental aspects, currently it’s almost impossible to find mass produced natural wine, so you’ll be drinking a wine made by a small producer, which likely farmed the vineyard themselves. We think the wine just tastes better, a true reflection of the place in which it was grown that carries an energy and soul unattainable in recipe wines.
Things to keep in mind
You can make bad wine from good grapes, but it's impossible to make good wine from bad grapes naturally. Therefore farming/growing is the most important thing, almost all natural wine producers spend the majority of their time in their vines.
Happy vineyards = Happy wines = Happy us.
Yes, there are some poorly made natural wines available, but this is far outweighed by the delicious ones. (keep in mind there are also A LOT of poorly made conventional wines)
Why are they all so expensive? These are artisan, crafted products. Natural wine makers prefer doing things by hand as opposed to mechanically, so each step of the winemaking process takes longer, and as such, costs more.
No hangover right? Lets clear this one up- according to folk wisdom, sulphites (of which natural wine avoids) are to blame for the most vicious post-wine hangovers. This isn’t exactly true; sulphites do not cause headaches per se, the other more dominant ingredient of wine, alcohol, is more likely to blame. The lack of preservatives might help a little, but it's the alcohol that still bites.
Give it a try!
If you’re still sceptical, we’ve put together the perfect ‘Gateway to Natural Pack.’ 3 bottles grown and made naturally, that are easy going, clean, pure expressions of what can be achieved by simple but thoughtful winemaking.
For those who may have dabbled but remain unconvinced, try the New to Natural 3 pack. Here are 3 wines we tend to give to customers in store who have heard the hype but haven't tried. These are more party style wines that are all juicy and fresh. Sure to get you hooked.
Once you pop you can’t stop
It’s a slippery slope, to us these wines represent some of the purest and most interesting ‘products’ on the market. See what the fuss is about for yourself.