Natural wine is a process that avoids adding anything or removing anything throughout the winemaking process.
Natural wine is slowly transitioning from an unheard-of concept to a mainstream topic. While many wineries are moving in that direction, there is still a lot of confusion about natural wine and how it differs from organic, biodynamic and vegan wine. What exactly is natural wine, and why is it becoming a trend?
When it comes to the key features of natural wine, it is centered on the process of how the wine is made. How the grapes are treated in the vineyard and in the cellar determines whether a wine is considered natural or not.
In the vineyard, wineries are required to use organic and biodynamic practices to ensure there are no synthetic sprays used on the grapes. In the cellar, the wines have to be left to ferment naturally, without the winemaker's influence. This means that the grapes have to depend on their natural yeast to ferment. It also means that no chemicals, preservatives, or acids can be added. And at the end of the process, the wine is not filtered or fined, which results in a hazy, unclear wine.
The concept of natural means that nothing is added or taken away. The wine is as it would naturally be.
How Natural Wine Highlights Sustainability
When it comes to sustainability, natural wine plays a key role. Since the principle of sustainable wine revolves around wine made in an eco-friendly way that does not harm the environment or people involved, it is a critical part of the sustainable movement.
The vineyard techniques are one of the main features that showcase how sustainability is emphasized with natural wine.
Since wineries don't spray the vines with any synthetic pesticides or herbicides, there is little damage done to that area's natural environment. With artificial sprays, the insects, animals, and soil are all impacted and harmed. Not only are the insects killed, but birds or mammals that eat the grapes are damaged too. What many don't consider is that these poisons also affect those who work in the vineyards, harvesting the grapes or training the vines.
Secondly, biodynamic practices are focused on incorporating nature into the vineyards to bring harmony to vines and wine. This highlights a beautiful symmetry in the vineyards, as well as reducing the need for much machinery, fertilizers, or overuse of water.
Another crucial component is how the grapes are treated in the cellar when making natural wine. By minimizing the use of chemicals and additives, the wines are better for consumption and health. By reducing the winemaker's intervention, there is little use of equipment and machinery.
While most wines don't require tremendous use of electricity, it adds up if each winery worldwide uses this equipment each year. So by removing the need for intervention, thus removing the need for electric equipment, natural wine has gained massive traction in the sustainable movement.
Quality of Natural Wine
Natural wine has come in all forms, from red and white to sparkling and orange. Each of these wines takes on its own unique form, highlighting how diverse this style of wine can be and how impactful it can be in the movement toward sustainability. Many argue that the lack of preservatives in these wines means that the quality of the wines is reduced, but this cannot be further from the truth.
The way natural wine is made actually allows for better aging than conventional wine. Tannin and sediment act as a natural preservative for wine, allowing the wine to age and develop for decades. And since natural wines are not fined or filtered, this sediment in the bottles acts as a preservative, allowing for perfect aging.
So natural wines can be made from just about any grape variety and can be kept as a long-term aging wine.
When it comes to white wine, a unique style of white wine has emerged and has become the epicenter of natural white wine. When white wines are fermented naturally with their skins, the color turns bright orange or even amber. This orange wine is not a typical style, but it is ironically one of the oldest winemaking styles in history. These orange wines are not only a pinnacle point of natural winemaking but also unconventional, unique styles.
When it comes to moving wine into a sustainable direction, natural wine is at the forefront. While organic and biodynamic wines play an important role in sustainability, natural wine has incorporated all these elements and techniques and dominates the sustainable movement.
When white wines are fermented naturally with their skins, the color turns bright orange or even amber.
Natural wine incorporates all the fundamental elements that celebrate sustainable efforts, including organic and biodynamic practices.
Natural wine incorporates essential vineyard practices, as well as cellar techniques that focus on not taking away or adding anything to the wine. Instead, it is left to be as it naturally would.
The quality or age-ability of wine is not reduced because a wine is made in a natural way. In fact, the age-ability is excellent because of the natural preservatives.