Natural wine revolution takes hold
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
A growing coalition of winemakers, sommeliers, restaurateurs, and wine enthusiasts are championing natural wine, leading to a rapidly evolving market.
Just like craft beer, the advent of natural wine has added an extra dimension to the trendiness of wines. Natural wines are produced organically from pure grape juice without additives or processing aids in the cellar.
They are not fined or filtered and are full of naturally occurring microbes. Wine experts and enthusiasts agree there are health benefits to these wines and love how the farming techniques are good for the environment.
Natural or minimal-intervention winemaking started in Europe in the 1980s. Wine connoisseurs wanted to step back from the technological improvements introduced to manipulate the consistency of wine.
It started with wine advocates in France and Italy wanting to promote a deeper continuation of the organic or biodynamic process. The natural method requires minimal manual harvesting.
It rules out most winemaking additives like chaptalization, Mega Purple colorant, acidity adjustments, powdered tannins, cultured yeasts, along with vitamins and enzymes to aid fermentation. Manipulations like cryo-extraction and reverse osmosis, sterile filtration and pasteurization are also eschewed.
Prices tend to be expensive, so the expectation of a superior taste is naturally high. One of the few additives used is sulfur dioxide which helps remove harmful bacteria. Critics agree to this point but also argue that this interferes with the taste, hence the term “faulty wines” that some sommeliers use.
They feel that by using the loaded term “natural,” these new age winemakers are lauding the vinegary faults that traditional winemakers have tried so hard to eradicate for the past 100 years. They do not believe that natural wine has any place on the elegant table.
While faults are not confined to natural wines, it seems that traditional wine producers are sticking to that agenda to undermine the new competition. Despite all that, demand for natural wine is growing albeit in trendier sections and mostly among younger drinkers.
You might also find natural wine festivals increasingly dotting the food and beverage scene near you. Los Angeles is leading the revolution by hosting the world’s largest natural wine festival, RAW WINE.
This year, RAW WINE featured a new wave of California winemakers who want to grow and produce wines with minimal input and intervention.
The movement seems to be growing every day and now Aldi, the German discount supermarket, has started selling $8 rosé to pay homage to the new wine trend in town. The naturally fermented, private label orange wine sends the message that natural wines don’t need to be expensive, which will probably add to its popularity.
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