The interpretation of natural wine revolves using grapes farmed organically or biodynamically while keeping winery interventions to an absolute minimum. That should mean spontaneous fermentation and no additions of sugar, enzymes, acid, or powdered tannins. Neither should anything be taken away by de-acidification, de-alcoholisation, or concentration. These low intervention processes create tasty wines that allow you to taste the original flavours of grapes. They are full of personality and you may feel the terroir (climate) and the touch of the producer.
In small domaines and farmhouses that are said to be natural, they cultivate the soil and grow grapes in fields that are taken care of by themselves and their families. Hand-crafted grapes are beautiful and delicious.
What is happening at the site where wine is mass-produced
- A large amount of chemical fertiliser is used on the fields to maximise efficiency and profit
- Large machines tread on the soil
- At the winery, cultured yeast is introduced to control the fermentation process and adjust the aroma and taste artificially
- Sugar and acid are added, masking the taste of the grape as some of the grapes used may not be ideal
- Antioxidants (Sulphur dioxide: SO2) are added after racking the second bottling to prevent oxidation and keep unwanted bacteria at bay
No hangover by drinking Natural wine?
For a lot of people, natural wine does not cause hangover headaches or lethargy the next day. Some argue that the cause of hangover headaches is due to the antioxidants (sulphur dioxide: SO₂) found in non-natural wine. Although this has not been scientifically proven, the use of sulphur dioxide is controversial. Most hard-line natural winemakers outrightly reject these additions. Others, such as the L’Association des Vins Naturels, quote 30mg/l of total sulphur for whites and 20mg/l for reds as permissible.
Categories of Natural Wine
- Organic wine: organic wine must be made from certified organically grown grapes, but once the grapes are delivered to the winery most additives and interventions are permitted in production.
- Biodynamic wine: Biodynamic wine must be made from certified biodynamically grown grapes, meaning the grower has gone beyond organic requirements by using preparations specified by Rudolf Steiner—the father of biodynamic agriculture—performing the tasks in accordance with the lunar calendar. As with organic wine, many winemaking additives are permitted However, to be certified as biodynamic, the fermentation has to be spontaneous, using wild yeasts. In Europe and elsewhere, there are many certification bodies for organic agricultural products such as AB and eco-sale. They are given only to producers who have cleared strict standards, but many producers dare not obtain them because of their high cost.
- Orange wine (Skin contact wine): Generally considered as natural wine, orange wine is made using groups that are grown organically or biodynamically and produced with minimal intervention. These wines are made by leaving white grapes in contact with their skins (and sometimes seeds and stalks) for an extended period of time unlike typical white wine-making, which separates the juice from its skin early in the process. To put it simply, orange wines are white wines made like red wines