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What to Expect from Natural Wine

A buzz-word topic amongst the wine community, natural wines are here to stay for the long run. Before you ask the inevitable question - but isn’t all wine natural? The short answer is no. Yes, wine is a natural product which is a result of fermenting grapes, but the conventional wine (the standard supermarket stuff) isn’t natural in terms of what wine should be. 

Natural wine literally contains nothing more than grapes and minimal intervention; figuratively it also contains love, blood, sweat and probably tears too. Conventional wine on the other hand, is made through the manipulation of the grapes on the vine and in the winery. 

Winemakers of conventional wines like to control every aspect of wine production in order to maximise their overall profits, most notably at the detriment of the environment – all so they can micro-manage a wine’s taste, flavour, mouthfeel and aroma. And conventional wine contains more than just grapes. It can contain a wealth of different additives including sulphites. Not to mention the pesticides, fungicides and other chemicals used during the grape growing aspect of winemaking. Then there are the chemicals used during the fining and filtering process. Conventional wine is about as far away from nature as you can get. 

What is Natural Wine?
Natural wine is a wine that contains grapes only. Nothing extra is added, not even yeast to aid fermentation or sugar to speed up the fermentation or enhance the taste. A natural wine vintner relies on the natural yeast present on the skins of the grapes in order to ferment the juice and turn the grape liquid into wine. Nothing is put into it, nothing is taken away from it. In fact, natural wine is left as untouched as possible. 

What Can be Expected from Natural Wines?

They Can be Cloudy

Natural wines tend to be cloudy in appearance because unlike conventional wines, they aren’t filtered or fined. Natural winemakers embrace the au natural state of their produce, sediment and all. So if you prefer your wine less cloudy, give the contents of the bottle time to settle before pouring. 

They Can Have an Odd Tang

This isn’t to say natural wine tastes peculiar, it’s just if you’ve never tasted it before, it can catch you off guard. Because natural wines rarely taste anything like its refined counterpart – conventional wines. 

In fact, natural wine has been described as sour or having a funky aroma that some have likened to the sour notes of cider or kombucha. And that is perfectly normal. Because natural wine, just like cider and kombucha, is fermented over a longer period allowing the grape juice to fully ferment into wine. Conventional wines on the hand, have chemicals added to expedite the process. 

When it comes to the taste of natural wine, in reality, not many natural wines are similar for several reasons. Firstly there is a great range of flavours and aromas due to the different wild yeasts which are uniquely found in each vineyard. Then there are the different terroirs in which the grapes are grown. And finally, the different fermentation methods of each natural vintner will impart different flavour notes. 

They Can be Fizzy

When you ferment anything (even conventional wine), one of the natural by-products of the fermentation process is carbon dioxide, which can result in a fizzy elixir. But this fizz is undesirable in conventional wines, so the winemakers tend to remove the gas from their produce. 

Natural winemakers on the hand embrace the bubbles as it’s all part of the natural wine drinking experience. If you don’t like the fizz on your tongue, simply decant your bottle of natural wine and swirl the contents around to dissipate the bubbles. 

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