Last week, on our WineCollective blog, we posted the differences between organic and non-organic wine (as well as vegan and biodynamic). Lately however, we have also noticed another trend breaking out into the largest winemaking regions including France, Australia and the United States.
Natural wine producers are beginning to set a new standard – one that involves absolutely no intervention during winemaking. Alexandre Bain, Pouilly-Fumé’s only natural winemaker says what sets natural wines apart from organic is that “organic and biodynamic are the tools, natural is the philosophy.”
In depth, natural winemaking involves no corrections to sugars or acidity in addition to the organic and all natural process of growing grapes and vineyard care. Even more, natural winemaking has no removal of excess dilution and no additional yeasts. Natural yeasts always take place in making wine; however, most producers add commercial yeasts in order to kick-start the fermentation process.
Unlike other beverages and food, wine is not required to include nutrition labels that would otherwise state all ingredients used in the wine. The New York Times says that producers avoid listing this information, as consumers would find it confusing. As an example, the use of egg whites for fining is not commonly known to the average wine drinker, yet is absolutely necessary information for an individual following a vegan diet.
For the consumer, diet regulations as well as nutrition details are at times extremely important. As a result, many consumers want wine labels to be more detailed or are turning to natural wine.
Natural wine has begun to create debate within the wine community. While some winemakers swear by the process – or lack of – others are arguing that the wine is weak and that certain additives are beneficial to the end product.
Many natural wines do still include the tolerated sulphite amount of 150 mg/L. As sulphite helps to preserve wine, those that do not include the additive are fragile, losing colour and flavour through any shipping stress. Sulphite also helps to kill harmful bacteria that natural wines are more open to. Other enzymes help to remove solid pieces in wine as well as amplify desired aromas, textures and tastes.
For certain winemakers, natural wine is “as nature intended.” While this new phenomenon is spreading, with Artisanal wine events such as RAW in London, wine drinkers have much to consider. With limited research, it is unknown if wine additives are harmful to the body; however, we do know it is wise to stay away from large amounts of preservatives. Second, are taste, aroma, colour and depth more significant than the alternative – which some winemakers call “beet juice”?
My opinion is that there is no harm in drinking any wine. Sulphite, additives, enzymes and all – winemaking has been through the process of reaching perfection for thousands of years. While I am a fan of the organic and biodynamic approaches, personally they are not required to enjoy a glass. I do however see the perspective of those with dietary restrictions, so the question remains:
Should producers be required to include nutrition and ingredient details on their wine labels? Tell us what you think!