What is Natural Wine?

clear wine glass on grass illustrating what is natural wine

Updated July 19th 2023

What exactly is natural wine, really? Bars and restaurants all over the world are now serving natural wine, but most people don't know exactly what it is. This recent trend in the wine industry is in fact a very old way of making wine. In this guide you will find everything about natural wine.

Natural wine is a wine trend that has divided the wine industry into two camps. Some people think it ruins the wine production practices and results in wine of lower quality. Opponents to this trend call it a "hipster wine". On the other hand, its proponents claim that nature wine better expresses the terroir and the “real” wine. There are also people who claim that natural wine is better for you. One thing is certain, when restaurants all over the world are including a list of natural wines, there must be something special about it. Here you find the most common questions and answers about this wine phenomenon.

What is Natural wine?

First of all, let’s define what natural wine is. Natural wine is a wine made with minimal intervention. There are no official regulations, certifications or definitions for the natural wine making process. It is a very ancient way of making wine. In general, wine makers of natural wine follow the following guidelines: 

Natural wine vs Organic wine: what is the difference?

Natural wine and organic wine are not the same. Natural wine is a loose term used for wines which are made with low intervention in the wine making process. There is no certification for natural wine, which means that wine makers can interpret the term “natural” as they wish. Therefore, natural wines vary greatly both in flavour and style. Most natural wines are produced using organic grapes. 

Organic wines are certified wines made with only organic grapes. Organic certification does not guarantee low intervention. An organic wine usually taste very similar to conventional wine, but natural wine can taste very different. 

How does Natural wine taste?

Natural wine tend to be less fruity and lower in alcohol than normal wine. The flavour is often slightly more sour and the wine often taste like yeast. The natural wine taste differs depending on the grapes used and the producer of the wine, but many natural wines taste rustic, funky and pure. Quite often the natural wines are described as tasting "like a farm". One of the reasons why many people like natural wines is because they taste quite different from the regular wine they are used to find in supermarkets and restaurants. Some people argue that natural better expresses the terroir. 

When tasting natural wines, it is a good idea to be open to new types of flavours. Many natural wines taste different from conventional wines, but it doesn't necessarily mean that they taste bad. You might even find a new favourite. 

How do I drink Natural wine?

All natural wines, even the red wines, should be served slightly chilled. It is a good idea to open the wine 30-60 minutes before serving to let the wine "breathe". If you have a decanter it can be a good idea to use it. 

Is Natural wine healthy?

Not necessarily. Some people say that natural wine is better for you than traditional wine. They claim that it gives less of a headache than red wine because it does not contain sulphites or additives. This might be true, but there is still no scientific evidence that proves this. Natural wines are unfiltered and use less additives, but that does not mean that they are healthier. When the wine is not filtered, some impurities stay in the bottle. Also, by not using sulphites, natural wines last for a much shorter time. If you do not drink the wine within a year of buying it, there is a high risk that will taste bad. 

How long does Natural wine last?

Aging natural wine is not a good idea. Due to the lack of preservatives, natural wine does not last for a long time and is not good for storing. The shelf life of natural wines is short and the wines should be consumed young. Drink the bottle within one year of buying it.

Is there any certification for Natural wine?

No, at the moment there is no certification for natural wine. This makes it a bit ambiguous what a natural wine really is. Because of the lack of guidelines on how to make natural wine, quality can differ greatly. There are some regions in France, Italy and Spain that have specific standards for wineries producing natural wine in their areas.

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