Table of Contents
“It’s a wine without synthetic chemicals or oenological inputs, made from organic grapes harvested by hand”
Definition of Natural Wine
The definition of a natural wine seems simple: “It is a wine without synthetic chemicals or oenological inputs, made from organic grapes harvested by hand“. Or almost … Sulfites in wine are the subject of debate. If it is commonly accepted that a natural wine can contain less than 30 mg / l of total SO2, a part of the makers and drinkers of natural wines make no concessions. For them, a natural wine should not contain added sulfites.
To summarize, if the law required to mention the list of ingredients on wine bottles (like any other food product, but the conventional wine lobby is quite powerful…), a natural wine would only have the word “grape” written on it (with some sulphites), while a so-called “conventional” wine could have more than 80 inputs mentioned. Here we give you a little overview:
Ascorbic acid / Citric acid / L(+) tartaric acid / L-ascorbic acid / L-malic acid D,L malic / Lactic acid / Malic acid / Metatartaric acid / Tartaric acid / Acidification by electromembrane treatment / Egg albumin / Anhydride acid / Self-enrichment by evaporation / Self-enrichment by reverse osmosis / Yeast autolysates / Lactic acid bacteria / Barrels and casks / Bentonite / Beta-glucanases / Potassium bicarbonate / Potassium bisulphite / Ammonium bisulphite…
How is Natural Wine Made?
Natural wine is not made in a specific way. It can be of all colors (red, white, rosé, orange…), be vinified in all ways (carbonic, semi-carbonic, etc.) and in all possible containers (barrel, qvevri, stainless steel tank, etc.). The only conditions that he must respect, in our opinion, are:
- Grapes at least organic and harvested by hand.
- No input during the entire winemaking process (except a maximum dose of 30 mg/l of total SO2 added at bottling).
What is the Difference Between a Natural, Biodynamic, Organic and Conventional Wine?
The difference between these types of wine is found in the products authorized for the cultivation of the vine and during the vinification. To put it simply, natural wines contain the fewest inputs, then there are biodynamic, organic and then conventional wines. But to know in detail the list of oenological inputs, the dose of sulphite and the authorized products, we invite you to read our dedicated article: The difference between conventional, organic, biodynamic & natural wine?
Where to Buy Natural Wine?
Buy in Town
In town, there are many shops offering natural wine. Of course, we advise you not to go to a supermarket or a shop that is too mainstream. To find one, you can go to our menu: Buy Natural Wine. The good thing is that a wine merchant can advise you a bottle if you are a neophyte. We also !
If you want more choice, don’t have a cellar near you or are looking for specific natural wines, here is a small selection of our favorite online natural wine shops where you will find a vast choice of quality natural wine:
Natural Wine : Frequently asked Questions
Is a Natural Wine Always Organic?
👉 Yes, a natural wine is necessarily made from organic grapes (this is one of the essential conditions). However, the reverse is not true. An organic wine is not necessarily a natural wine, because a certain number of inputs can be used during the vinification. For more information, we advise you to read our article “natural wine vs organic wine“.
Can we Age Natural Wine ?
👉 Like conventional wines, it simply depends on the structure of the wine. Between the wines that must be drunk during the year and those that can age for ten years, the range is wide. Even if these are not the only two criteria, it is the tannins and the acidity that will mainly tell us if a wine can improve with age. To put it simply, the more a wine is tannic and acidic, the more it will age peacefully.
Why is Natural Wine Expensive?
👉 To say that natural wine is expensive is at the same time false, correct and complex to answer. First, like art, the price of certain wines (unlike other agricultural sectors) is not necessarily indexed to its manufacturing cost, but to the emotion it conveys, its rarity, its prestige, the technical nature of the winegrower, etc. The correct price of a terroir wine, complex, balanced, with a particular energy and emotion, is very difficult to define (these are relative criteria). Without forgetting that an author’s wine in the image of a masterpiece is known for speculation.
However, in general, it is true that a natural wine costs more than a conventional wine (just like all organic food). Several reasons can explain it: the natural winegrowers often have a smaller agricultural surface, lower yields, a higher labor cost, and they also have a greater risk that the vinification encounters some problems … All these costs and risks are logically reflected in the price.
How to Store Natural Wine?
👉 They should be stored like conventional wines, but the only thing that differs is that natural wines are more fragile. It is therefore necessary to pay a little more attention to the aging conditions, in particular to the storage temperature (not more than 15°) and its variations (it must not undergo a radical change in temperature).
Why do some Natural Wines Smell Bad ?
👉 Some sulfite free wines called also living wines on opening may have an unpleasant odor familiarly associated with that of the farm or of a “cow’s ass”. This is called the “reduction”. This phenomenon is due to autolysis (dead yeasts). Don’t panic, it’s nothing serious or permanent. With a little aeration, the smell disappears.
Why Natural Wine is Fizzy ?
👉 Sometimes, natural wine are fizzy on opening. This is not a flaw, it is just that in order to protect the wine from contact with air (or rather to take the place of air), the winegrower, instead of adding sulphites, lets CO2 (resulting from fermentation) or adds, and slight bubbles may form. Some people love this sensation in the mouth because it can bring freshness. For others, less convinced, you just need to aerate the wine, after a few minutes the bubbles disappears.
Why Buy a Natural Wine?
👉 The taste being relative, there are two criteria that seem subjective to buy natural wine.
The first is that sulphites are classified among the 10 major allergens, buying natural wine therefore allows you to limit health risks (vomiting, headaches, respiratory problems, etc.).
The second is that the grapes come from organic farming that respects biodiversity. But it is also a way of supporting independent winegrowers.