Natural wines: a little less rock thinking
What are natural wines? Explaining well what natural wine is is by no means simple, mainly because there is a lot of confusion in the media. Such confusion due firstly to the lack of legislation regulating its certification (although some associations have created their own specifications, Vinnatur’s being a good example) and secondly to the popularization of misconceptions and misconceptions associated with the world of natural wine, to put it in one word there is a certain “misinformation.”
For example, questions such as: are natural wines the sulfite-free wines? Are natural wines the organic wines? They only create confusion. Let us therefore try to provide some clarity.
Natural wine, organic wine and biodynamic wine
Natural wine is wine made from healthy grapes grown in the field without pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers and processed in the winery without the use of additives
Organic wine is wine made from grapes grown “without chemistry” in the vineyard, but some 40 additives and wine-making aids are still allowed in the winery, including industrial yeast, gum arabic, oak chips, tartaric acid, isinglass and many others. The biggest confusion for the consumer lies in the fact that, among certified organic wineries, they cannot know who uses one additive or who uses all of them.
Seeing all ingredients on the label would raise the awareness of increasingly environmentally conscious people, especially when it relates to food, and open a new phase of discussion. However, it is not our job to stand here and open a debate, but rather, if anything, to dispel doubts.
Biodynamic wine is wine made from grapes grown according to biodynamic farming practices, derived from the thinking formulated in the 1920s by Rudolph Steiner, the father of anthroposophy. In biodynamic wines very little intervention is allowed in the cellar; clarification (with egg white or bentonite) and light filtrations may be done. Practices that are nonetheless minimally invasive and respectful of the work done in the vineyard.
Sulfur dioxide is a substance that naturally develops during the must fermentation process. The law obliges the producer to label it “contains sulfites” when the content of total sulfur dioxide in wine is 10mg/L or more.
That said, we must add that the legal limits on the content of total sulfur dioxide in wines is very high. For conventional wines it is about 210 mg/L for whites, 160 mg/L for reds, and up to 260 mg/L for sweet wines.
For organic wines it is 100 mg/l for reds and 150 mg/l for whites, and for biodynamic wines it is 70 mg/l for reds and 90 mg/l for whites.
In natural wines there is often no added sulfur dioxide, or if there is it is often as low as 50mg/l for whites and 30mg/l for reds.
Unfortunately, since there is no requirement to indicate the amount of sulfur dioxide in the wine, by law there is no difference between a wine that has 10mg/l of sulfur dioxide and one that has 200mg/l, but we assure you (with a good deal of drinking experience) that the difference is there and on a physical level you can feel it.
All clear? Is what you have just read sufficient for you?
If the answer is yes or if you’re in a hurry right now, feel free to drop by our homepage: after the theory it’s only right (and in this case also pleasant) to get down to practice, so have a good drink!
Natural Wine - Part II
To understand even better what natural wine represents, we believe it is important to place it in a distinct social and environmental context.
Natural wines and social context
Speaking of the social context, it is essential to return to imagining Wine (with a capital V) as an agricultural product, pure and true, born to be drunk and to be on our tables. Without too many frills, without too many grades and scores, and without too much talk
Wine, basically, has always been “natural.” It is only since a few decades that the wine industry has begun to manipulate it with a series of chemicals (allowed by law, let’s be clear) in order to make it a simple product that can be shaped according to commercial and business logic.
Wine, on the other hand, was born as a derivative of grapes and nothing else, with humans guiding, according to their skills and experience, the grapes through the various stages of processing that turn it into wine.
In a nutshell: Natural wine is wine as it has always been made. It is not a fad of our times, because our grandparents and before them entire generations have always made it from grapes, with patience and knowledge. The real fads are modernity and chemistry, not natural wine, as some might mistakenly think.
Talking about the environmental context takes us into a very broad topic that today, fortunately, we are all more sensitive and attentive to. Agricultural sustainability is fundamental, and natural wine starts precisely from respect for the Earth and the environment, where agricultural processes are carried out according to a logic aimed at keeping the environmental impact as low as possible.
Talking to any winemaker can confirm to you that good wine is born in the vineyard: bringing healthy, living grapes to the winery is the basis for being able to make good wine. This is why organic, biodynamic and passionate vineyard care are essential! Grapes from soils depleted by the use of chemicals will lack most of the elements needed to be able to carry out fermentation processes-that is when chemistry and modern technology come into play.
Drink natural wines
There are many reasons to drink natural wine and one could start by saying that it is, indeed, natural and therefore knows no strange interventions in the cellar, has not seen its grapes touched by pesticides and/or phytopharmaceuticals and perfectly reflects the synergy between the fruit of the vine, the surrounding environment and the work of man. In essence, a fermented grape juice.
Reductive? Quite the contrary: it is a testament to the winemakers and a sincere recognition of the vine for its work. One is quick to say “grape juice,” but it is difficult to explain the difficulties faced in bringing healthy grapes to the winery: they are endless challenges, and while it is true that nature is often an ally, it is also true that its frosts, torrid summers, hailstorms and incessant rains can wreck an entire year’s work in less than a handful of hours.
So, when you ask yourself why drink a natural wine think about that, think about the work of the winemakers, the grapes that arrive beautiful and healthy in the cellar and do nothing more than ferment according to those yeasts indigenous to its terroir. Think of the few bottles, produced with passion and sold to repay an authentic liquid treasure: true, unrepeatable, honest.
Natural wines are alive and continue their evolution in the bottle. It is important to store them well at the right temperatures (12 to 16 degrees) and allow them the right amount of time to rest, avoiding opening them as soon as they arrive. When buying natural wines online let them rest two or three days before opening them!