Natural Wine 101

Natural Wine 101

Posted by Andy Comer on

Natural Wine 101

What makes it different? Why is it a better choice? Your most pressing questions, answered.


1. What is natural wine?

Natural wine is wine made from organically-farmed grapes that isn’t doctored up with industrialized chemicals and techniques. JUST GRAPES. It’s rarer than you think—MUCH rarer. Only 5% of the world’s vineyards are farmed organically and less than 1% of the world’s wines are natural.

2. Why is natural wine a better choice?

For the same reason that organic food, natural beauty, and non-toxic household products are better choices than industrially-processed ones. Not only do we believe that natural wine tastes better, but it’s better for the environment and better for our bodies. Natural wine is also typically made by small farmers and producers, and we choose to support individuals (over corporations) who are doing things right.

3. How is natural wine different from “regular” wine?

“Regular” winemakers add chemicals and other adjuncts in nearly every step of production, from the vineyard to the bottle. Think chemical fungicides, herbicides, and pesticides on the vines, to egg whites, gelatin, saw dust (!), and isinglass (fish bladder) in the winery. It’s gross. Natural wine contains none of that.

4. Do natural wines contain sulfites?

All wines have naturally-occurring sulfites that are a byproduct of fermentation. But the use of added sulfites in natural wine is smaller by orders of magnitude. In conventional wine making, it is not uncommon for producers to add up to 350 ppm (parts per million) of sulfur when making a wine. Natural wines fall somewhere on the scale of 00-75 ppm.

Natural wine is made from organically-farmed grapes that isn’t doctored up with industrialized chemicals and techniques. Only 5% of the world’s vineyards are farmed organically and less than 1% of the world’s wines are natural.

5. Will natural wine give me a hangover?

All wine contains alcohol, and we believe everyone should drink responsibly. That said, if given the choice between a glass of conventional wine (made with chemically-farmed grapes and 70+ additives) and a glass of natural wine (organically-farmed grapes, no synthetic additives), which one do you think is the wiser choice?

6. Are natural wines vegan?

They are—and the vast majority of store-bought wines are NOT. Most conventional winemakers use some kind of animal-derived product—isinglass (fish bladders), egg whites, or gelatin—to fine and filter their wines.

7. What do natural wines taste like?

In terms of flavor, there is no overarching style or profile to natural wine. Some are fresh, fruity, and light. Others are deep, earthy, and spiced. Some are kooky and eclectic. Others are classical and reserved. The world of natural wine is diverse and kaleidoscopic.

8. Is natural wine the same as organic and biodynamic wine?

Natural wine is always made with organic or biodynamically-farmed grapes. But not all organic and biodynamically-farmed grapes are made into natural wine. You can take a crate of biodynamic grapes and doctor the heck out of them until the wine isn’t natural at all. Rest assured, all of our wines are made with organic and biodynamic grapes, and made into natural wine.

9. What is an orange wine?

‘Orange wine' refers to a style of winemaking popular among natural winemakers, in which white grapes are fermented with their skins, which produces an amber, or orange, color. But not all orange wines are natural. A wine is only natural if it's farmed organically and free of synthetic additives.

10. What’s the best way to store natural wine?

Just like any kind of wine, you want to keep natural wine in a cool place, out of the sun. Ideal cellar temp is around 58 degrees. But that is probably cooler than you have your AC set. So, if you don’t have a dedicated wine fridge, just keep it in a room that doesn’t have crazy temperature fluctuations and sits around 70 degrees.

11. What is the ideal temperature to serve natural wine?

The temperature you serve your wine has a huge impact on the taste! Chilling down wines can help preserve their acidity and keep the wines tasting fresh. Allowing wines to warm up will bring out tannins, fruit, and aromatics.

When it comes to ice buckets for wine, there are two ways to use ice like a pro: on ice or in ice. To keep a wine ice cold, you want it submerged in ice or an ice bath. To maintain the temperature of a wine after you pull it from the fridge without making it too cold, get an ice bucket without water and just set the bottle on top of the ice. Don't be shy about using ice buckets to bring the temperature of a wine back to one that allows maximum enjoyment. Sometimes wine gets too warm! Especially on hot days.

Some specifics:

Red Wine: For most red wines, pop them into the fridge for 30 minutes to bring them to cellar temperature. This holds true for light red wines with tannins, medium and full-bodied reds. Lighter reds and co-ferments without tannins can go in the fridge for an hour or even be served ice cold.

White Wine: Lighter white wines should be served ice cold. Medium bodied, fuller and oxidative white wines can start cold, but allow them to warm up as you drink to see how the wine develops. For big, complex and aromatic wines, 1 hour in the fridge is perfect. Not quite ice cold, not quite cellar temp. It is the Goldilocks zone for truly special bottles of white with a lot going on.

Orange Wine: Orange wines can be treated much in the same way you would a white wine. Lighter, fruity wines can be served ice cold to preserve freshness. For full-bodied, tannic oranges, 1 hour in the fridge and allow them to warm up as you drink.

Rosé Wine: Rosé wines are meant to be easy-drinking affairs. Serve these ice cold.

Sparkling Wine: Ice cold, baby!

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