Going Au Naturale: A Guide To Natural Wine

Chances are you’ve heard about organic and biodynamic wines but what about natural wine? Let’s take a deep dive into natural and mindful winemaking styles to discover why less can sometimes be more.

What is natural wine? 

Natural wine is sometimes lumped into the same group as organic and biodynamic wine (and what a great group to be in!). Often natural wine is produced on vineyards that farm organically with many using biodynamic practices. But, while both organic and biodynamic wines are concerned with farming methods, natural wine also takes into consideration the actual process of fermentation. During the winemaking process, nothing is added or removed and grapes are handpicked at harvest, a gentler and more time-consuming process.

What it doesn’t include makes it special

The best way to appreciate natural wine is by taking a closer look at what this style of wine doesn’t include. No chemicals are used in the vineyard, no inoculated yeast is used for fermentation, and there is no filtration or fining agents. 

Natural wine doesn’t hide its “flaws”

Natural wine is unfiltered, but don’t be put off by a little sediment and cloudiness at the bottom of the bottle, you could be missing out on a tantalising taste adventure. Traditional wines use refining agents and processes to remove what are considered flaws. Natural wine promotes transparency in the winemaking process. If the fruit is good, you can expect a fresh, honest and interesting wine that is uniquely individual. And because they do not include preservatives or additives, it’s best to drink them young. As they say, you should appreciate the here and now, that’s why it’s called the present!

Natural wine isn’t free of everything . . .

Be mindful that natural wines can still contain sulphur dioxide (SO2) so if you’ve heard that natural wines are free of SO2,  this is a myth. This is because sulphur dioxide occurs naturally during fermentation and while natural winemaking doesn't add any additional SO2, traces may still appear. Some natural winemakers choose to remove the sulphur dioxide altogether, but this is a conscious choice that requires another step in the process. Click here to discover more about the preservatives in wine. 

Simple Yet Skillful

While the age-old craft of winemaking often conjures up images of vignerons working in harmony with the land, the modern-day reality is actually quite different. Many wineries are now more like manufacturing plants and in Australia, more than 50 organic and non-organic chemicals can be legally added to the wine during the winemaking process without it being declared on the label. Natural winemakers steer away from additives entirely, which is no easy feat and requires a large degree of skill. Plus, unless winemakers grow the grapes themselves, there is only a limited supply of organic grapes available.

How do I know a bottle of wine is natural?

As natural wine is a growing category style, there is no set definition in the industry and currently no consistent regulation and no certification processes in place. Which can make finding a good natural wine quite the journey of discovery! It’s a movement that’s gaining more and more interest, so if you’re prepared to ask lots of questions, you’ll likely reap the rewards of your investigations by finding a delicious wine you never knew existed!

Interested in exploring mindful wine?

Check out our articles on our mindful wine categories, or visit our shop.

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