Natural wine is finally getting the love it deserves. This non-interventionist way of producing bottles has become beloved by sommeliers, industry folk, and consumers alike, and the reasons go far beyond just tasting good. However, many wine drinkers still find themselves asking one simple question… why?
The points are numerous, but we’re breaking down five major reasons why this style of wine needs to be in your glass. Skeptics, we’re especially looking at you.
It’s Environmentally Friendly
It’s true—natural wine is some of the most environmentally-friendly stuff you can put in your glass. Although the set definition of natural wine slightly wavers from person to person (this generally comes down to a debate over sulfites), everyone at least agrees that natural wine is produced from organically-farmed fruit. This means that at minimum, no herbicides or pesticides are used within the vineyards.
However, many natural wine producers take their farming practices beyond just organic. Many growers will implement biodynamic and/or homeopathic methods in the vineyard, use essential oils/treatments, and encourage biodiversity amongst their vines. This mindful way of farming not only leads to healthier fruit, but also usually leaves the earth better than it was found.
Although, this is all to say that it’s not without its downfalls—natural wine is still reliant on transportation, which itself has a major impact on the environment. But the farming practices to produce all-natural wine are still some of the most environmentally friendly in the business.
In addition to responsible farming, natural winemakers use a ‘minimalist’ mentality in the cellar, meaning that not much is added or taken away during the vinification process. Believe it or not, winemakers around the world are actually permitted to add tons of chemicals, food colorings, and other manipulative agents to their wines without ever having to reveal the exact ‘recipe’ to consumers. Simply put, not all wine is created equal, and most wine is certainly not made from ‘just grapes.’ No matter where they’re based, natural winemakers across the board eschew the use of additions, look down on manipulations, and let the juice speak for itself… well, as naturally as possible.
It Reflects the Place From Which it Comes
That whole terroir thing that everyone talks about? When made right, natural wine expresses this really well. The notion of terroir is that a wine or agricultural product reflects the place from which it comes. If farmed responsibly and made without a ton of manipulation, a wine is more likely to reflect its place of origin than juice that’s been laden with chemicals, oak dust, and other agents that mask its sense of place.
It’s Made by Great Farmers
In the realm of winemaking, there are two major facets: viticulture and vinification. Viticulture is the actual farming component, whereas vinification is the actual winemaking part that takes place in the cellar. Many natural winemakers have their own vines and farm them responsibly, then carry out the vinification processes with a non-interventionist mentality. However, many natural winemakers don’t actually have their own vineyards. In this case, a winemaker will carefully select farmers and vineyard plots to work with. Either way, whether the winemaker is tending the vines themselves or buying from a great grower, one thing’s for sure: these farmers know their land, steward it well, and do their best to leave as minimal impact on the environment as possible.
It Tastes Really Good
Although natural wines often find themselves labeled as ‘funky’ or ‘weird,’ great natural wine should actually just taste straight-up good. When responsibly-farmed fruit and a light hand (of a great winemaker, of course) are used in the cellar, these wines tend to be lively, vibrant, and full of energy—in other words, they’re really fun and delicious to drink. Natural wines are made all over the world from an array of grape varieties, so finding something that fits your particular preference generally shouldn’t be too tricky.
There is a caveat that we must address though, and it goes back to the whole ‘funky’ and ‘weird’ thing. When wine drinkers first dabble in natural wine, the juice may taste different than what they’re used to, particularly if their usual pour was something cheap, out of balance, and heavily manipulated. However, by no means should the fact that a wine be made naturally excuse it from being flawed. If the wine exhibits any form of unpleasant faults or flaws, these shouldn’t be excused just because the juice is ‘natural.’ Above all, the wine should be delicious… what’s the point of drinking if it’s not?
Curious about natural wine but not sure where to start? Here are some of our favorite natural wine producers around the globe:
Christian Binner (Alsace)
Domaine Tessier (Loire)
Baptiste Cousin (Loire)
Domaine des Sablonnettes (Loire)
Famille Dutraive / Domaine de la Grand’Cour (Beaujolais)
Marcel Lapierre (Beaujolais)
Yann Bertrand (Beaujolais)
Paolo Bea (Umbria)
COS Wine (Sicily)
Elisabetta Foradori (Trentino - Alto-Adige)
Dirty & Rowdy (California)
Monte Rio Cellars (California)
Tony Coturri (California)
Joe Swick (Oregon)
Cellars de Can Suriol - Azimut
Envinate (Galicia/Canary Islands)
Christian Tschida (Burgenland)
Gut Oggau (Burgenland)
Enderle & Molle (Germany)
Rogue Vine (Chile)
Pheasant’s Tears (Georgia)