Natural wine: What it is and how you can try it

Natural wine: What it is and how you can try it

by Anna Leigh Bagiackas
Stripes Europe

Have you heard of natural wine? Does it sound like a fad or are you curious about it? Since social media has started pushing me advertisements for a number of natural wine importers, I wanted to get more serious about learning what it is, how it’s different from non-natural wine and if it’s worth tasting.

It seems that the murkiness surrounding natural wine comes from the fact that there isn’t a textbook definition of what the term means. Among the wine world, it is generally agreed upon that the term “natural wine” refers to wine that is in its purest form, fermented grape juice. Other names for it include “raw” or “naked” wine because it does not contain additives like sugar, acid, lab-grown yeast or larger amounts of sulfites. Natural wine winemakers will not also use herbicides or pesticides on the grapes. In some ways, “natural wine” has been around since the beginning of wine drinking.

In producing natural wine, winemakers will handpick the grapes—as opposed to using a machine—and they will rely on naturally occurring yeast with the fermentation process (think making a sourdough starter). The addition of sulfites also differentiates natural wine from the rest (sometimes termed “conventional wine”). Natural wines may have only a small amount of sulfites added, to preserve the taste of the wine from when it is bottled, but natural wine winemakers may also choose not to add any. Although there is a very large range of natural wines when it comes to flavors, this genre has gained a reputation for tasting “funky” and “earthy.” Unfiltered varieties will also give the wines a cloudy appearance.

This type of wine first grew in popularity in France, reflected in a bustling Paris natural wine bar scene that has been in existence for many years now. But once you start doing some digging, you will find that this wine has found its place in many European countries and around the United States. And if you’re stationed in Europe, what better time to do a little experimenting and taste some natural wines from countries like Greece, Czechia, Germany, Italy or Georgia?

Until restaurants and shops are fully open again, here are a few online shops that carry natural wines for you to explore:

8greenbottles

More Natural Wine

Frohrnatur

Grape Times

Enjoy your natural wine explorations and celebration of the grape!

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