Natural wine is the next big thing – but what is it?
Natural wines are beginning to grace restaurant menus and popping up in wine shops, as many people lean towards a more sustainable way of living.
WHAT IS NATURAL WINE?
Natural wines are “low intervention” wines that haven’t had anything added or taken away, and only the yeasts naturally present in the grapes are used to ferment them.
Natural wine isn’t filtered, so you may find some sediment floating in your glass. One of the most important differences though, is that natural wine doesn’t have any added sulphites (SO2), commonly used as preservatives to prevent oxidation and stop bacteria developing.
Organically-farmed wine and biodynamic wine have been big trends recently, and natural wine can be both of these things plus minimum intervention at a winery. But there isn’t a legal definition of what makes a wine natural.
HOW DID IT START?
In the 1980s, small-scale winemakers in France and Italy worked to create completely chemical-free wine in retaliation to the industry they believed was relying too heavily on additives. Word spread, and soon artisan winemakers across the rest of the world were following suit.
WHAT’S ALL THE FUSS ABOUT?
Anny Vexler, from Newcomer Wines in east London, says there’s a rising interest in natural wines and that customers often request wines with little or no sulphur, or which are a bit more “funky”.
“Conventionally-made wines wear a lot of make-up, as it were, whereas natural wines are authentic, honest and can speak to the place they come from,” she says.
“As an attitude, it’s certainly becoming more mainstream. The best wine lists in London would definitely include some wines that most people consider to be natural.”
Every natural wine will vary but some people say there’s a certain earthiness to the taste.
WHERE CAN I FIND IT?
Try independent wine shops or online wine merchants. Shop and wine bar Newcomer Wines in Dalston stocks a lot of natural wines and works directly with growers from Austria and neighbouring countries.
Online shop Slurp stock natural wines such as the Pheasant’s Tears Rkatsiteli 2011, £17.95, from Georgia, an unusual orange natural wine, and the popular Running Duck Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, £8.45.
Pheasant’s Tears Rkatsiteli 2011 from Georgia, £17.95, from Slurp
Running Duck Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, £8.45, South African, from Slurp
Kieselstein Zweigelt 2015, £16, from Newcomer Wines
Pet Nat Kalkspitz NV, £23, from Newcomer Wines