Natural wine has become wildly popular in the last few years and is a trend that is likely to continue growing. Not only is natural wine sought after due to its uniqueness and unconventionality, but also because of its perceived contribution to sustainability. But what is natural wine really, and is it really better for the planet?
What is Natural Wine?
Essentially, natural wine is based on the idea that nothing should be added or taken away from the wine during its process. This style of winemaking is a huge trend at the moment but is based on the winemaking styles of centuries ago. It was modern winemaking that adapted the process by adding and removing certain elements.
During the growing stage of the grapes, there are no synthetic pesticides used on the vines, and many wineries incorporate biodynamic wine practices.
This natural state that vines are allowed to grow adds to the premise of natural wine. During the winemaking phase, there are no additives added, no commercial yeast added, and the wine is not clarified.
As a result, the wines are murky and often have a very pungent odor that you don’t expect from a beverage. Since the fermentation process occurs without any clarification of the wine, there is a strong scent that mimics sourdough or Kombucha.
Why is Natural Wine Good for the Planet?
Since natural wines don’t use any synthetic elements in their vineyards, there are no chemicals leached into the soil, and no animals or insects are harmed by the sprays. Studies have also shown that synthetic sprays pollute the air and can affect those who inhale the sprays. So by making natural wines that use organic grapes, several natural elements are spared, highlighting how it is better for the planet than conventional wines.
In most cases, biodynamic farming practices are also used, which essentially encourages more animals and insects to flourish in the vineyards. This keeps biodiversity alive and regulates the natural state of the area.
The Downsides of Natural Wine
While natural wine is undeniably better for the planet than conventional wine in the winemaking growing and making stage, it isn’t a perfect product.
Unfortunately, the packaging and distribution of these natural wines are very much the same as conventional wines, creating the same problems as traditional wines. For the wine to be consumed, it needs to be packaged in glass bottles and cardboard boxes. These boxes also need to be transported far distances and even shipped abroad in order to get to the consumers.
In order to truly make a positive impact on the planet, these means of packaging and distribution should be addressed too. Simply focusing on only the growing and winemaking element is not enough to label a wine as environmentally friendly.
Of course, this isn’t easy since there is a lot of tradition embedded in wine, and making these changes will disrupt the industry. Many consumers are unwilling to compromise on the glass bottle, making it difficult for natural-wine producers and even conventional wine producers to change their packaging. Some efforts can be made to minimize the environmental impact during the distribution phase, but it doesn’t have to be limited to natural wine. All winemakers can take on these changes to reduce their effects, whether they are producing natural wine or not.
So, strictly speaking, natural wine is slightly better for the planet since it doesn’t taint the soil or the rest of its growing environment. However, organic and biodynamic wines are equally good for the planet since they adopt the same principles.
The only real difference in natural wine is in the impact it has on the consumer. With no additives or chemicals, the consumer benefits the most from the wine since it offers all the benefits one associates with natural wine. In order for it to be better for the planet, we truly have to change the packaging and distribution channels of these wines.
Key Marketing Takeaways
Natural wine is based on the idea that nothing should be added or removed from a wine. This is not a new winemaking style but rather based on ancient winemaking techniques.
Natural wine has many benefits, not only for the consumer but also for the planet. Its lack of synthetic sprays in the vineyards is its most significant selling point.
Natural wine isn’t perfect and still causes environmental issues. This is mainly in the process of packaging and distributing the final product.