ßNatural wine stands apart from conventional wines due to its distinct approach to winemaking that emphasizes minimal intervention, organic or biodynamic farming practices, and a holistic connection to nature. Unlike many conventional wines that may involve a multitude of additives, chemicals, and technological interventions, natural wine seeks to capture the pure essence of the grapes and the environment in which they are grown. Key differences in natural wine production include:
- Minimal Chemical Additives: Natural wine producers eschew the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers in the vineyard. They also limit the use of additives in the winemaking process, such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), which is commonly used in conventional winemaking to stabilize and preserve the wine.
- Wild Fermentation: Natural wines often rely on native, wild yeast strains for fermentation instead of using commercial yeast. This can result in unique and complex flavors, as the fermentation process is influenced by the local microflora.
- Unfiltered and Unfined: Natural wines are typically unfiltered and unfined, allowing the wine to retain more of its natural character, including cloudiness or sediment. This approach can result in wines that are less polished but often more expressive.
- Low Intervention: Natural winemakers intervene as little as possible during the winemaking process, allowing the wine to evolve and express its true nature without manipulation.
- Biodynamic or Organic Farming: Many natural wine producers practice biodynamic or organic farming, which prioritizes soil health, biodiversity, and a holistic approach to vineyard management.
- Low to No Sulfur: While some natural wines may contain minimal sulfur for stability, many are made with little to no added sulfur, which can make them more perishable but also less likely to cause sulfite-related reactions in sensitive individuals.
- Emphasis on Terroir: Natural winemakers often focus on expressing the unique terroir of their vineyards, believing that the land, climate, and grape variety should shine through in the final wine.
It's important to note that "natural wine" is not a regulated or certified category, and there can be variations in the practices of different producers who identify as natural winemakers. As a result, the characteristics and quality of natural wines can vary widely, making them a subject of exploration and discovery for wine enthusiasts looking for unique and unadulterated flavors that reflect the essence of a specific time and place.