I’ve written about it on the blog before, but I wanted to write a more dedicated post on my thoughts on natural wines, why everyone is buzzing about them, and their role in my own wine world.
What is natural wine?
This is the question you’ll see most debated online it seems. Not just the question being asked, but wine-insiders debating the asking of the question in the first place. There are some who want precise, legalistic definitions; and there are those who prefer the rougher, holistic perspective of determining the boundaries.
How much sulphur added is too much? Does the colonization of cellars by commercial yeasts complicate the reliance on native yeasts? Or, ultimately, is the term “natural” simply used to define a millennial–hipster culture or is it about greater questions of sustainability? If the former, is that a result of the exclusion of a new generation of wine consumers through the exponential price inflation?
If you squint past the cultural debates and try to focus on the winemaking practices that are connected to what’s considered natural wine, I think it can be boiled down to a few elements: sustainably grown and sourced grapes; no adjustments for acid, tannin, etc.; minimal (if any) sulfite addition; no added commercial yeast.
There are a lot of holes, debates, and expansions in that list above, for sure. But, when you get tired of going deep into these debates, that’s perhaps the least objectionable zone that could get closest to a definition.
Why is everyone talking about natural wine right now?