Drinks: “Natural” wine is a niche you need to know about
Four experts weigh in on wine’s buzziest category
How to speak “natural”
Organic wines are made from grapes grown without herbicides and pesticides. Once harvested, though, chemicals and enzymes can be used in the winemaking process. People who make biodynamic wines are a little … intense. They treat the vineyard as a living system and say all forms of life—animals, soil microbes, vines, other plants— exist in balance with each other and that a healthy harvest is the result of no imbalances (or herbicides and pesticides). Still, once these grapes are picked, the winemakers can employ chemicals. A natural wine is organic or biodynamic in the vineyard—and free of additives in the winery, meaning no yeasts, no nutrients, and, most controversially, no sulfur, which is used as a preservative to help a wine taste uniform bottle to bottle. All of this helps give natural wine its complexity— some might describe it as “funk”—and explains why oenophiles are into them: Just as we like to know exactly what we’re eating these days, we want to know exactly what we’re drinking, too.