“Natural” is a buzzword used by healthy eaters and fitness fanatics alike, and it goes hand in hand with terms like “organic” and “pesticide-free”. These terms are intended to assure us that whatever we’re consuming is relatively healthier than other alternatives that are available. These food or drink offerings are often more expensive. According to an article from Vox.com, they have a higher price point because they are perceived as quality products that have gone through less processing and are therefore purer.
This is the case with natural wine, and although they’re trendy right now, natural wines are nothing new. The generally agreed-upon definition for natural wine, according to livingwines.com, is “a naturally-fermented wine that has been made without additions and without anything being taken away from the wine.” Wine has been being made like this for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
Natural wine is different from “sustainable” or “organic” wine. The definitions for “sustainable” and “organic” vary, as they have been distorted by public perception. So much so that the labels can’t always be trusted to mean what you think they mean. The Vox article also explains that organic wine can also have no additives, and people often think that the term means that no pesticides were used in the vineyard, or that it indicates a different barrelling process, such as using a steel barrel instead of a wooden one for storage. These definitions can all be true, but the labelling is not an exact science.
Depending on what you’re looking for in your wine, there are different labels and certifications to keep an eye out for that specifically denote what kind of purification process the bottle has gone through. The requirements differ by country depending on rules around labelling and serving alcohol, but the most up to date list for Canadian wine standards can be found here:
Natural or organic wine may not be to everyone’s taste. Most advertisements and websites recommend shopping in person or at least having some kind of communication with the retailer, and definitely having a strong sense of what you usually like in a conventionally prepared bottle. This is because natural wine is without any additives, sweeteners, or additives to balance out flavour and tannins, and can be more, well, natural tasting. An article on eater.com noted that natural wines can taste sort of “cloudy” or “funky” with a comparison to kombucha and sour beers if you’re not used to the specific qualities.
Edmonton has some great local restaurants that offer natural wines and can help you choose exactly what kind to try if you’re new to the trend.
Pip has a section of their drink menu devoted to natural wines, and they take pride in offering selections from local retailers, such as Color de Vino, Juice Imports, and Garneau Block, which are also great places to start if you’d like to pick up a bottle to try at home.
However you choose to try natural wine, go in with a sense of what you usually like in a wine and you’ll likely find a bottle that feels second nature to your taste buds.
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