Natural & Biodynamic Wines

Drinking Wine Just Got Healthier

Article by Greg Neruda

Photography by Provided

Originally published in Boise Lifestyle

Generally speaking, natural wines are made with no chemicals and minimal intervention in the winemaking process.  Before chemicals (herbicides and pesticides) and refrigeration were invented, winemakers made natural wine, meaning Mother Nature dictated the qualities of the resulting wine and the winemaker mostly went along for the ride. It was just fermented grape juice then, not altogether an inaccurate definition of natural wine today.

Natural wines can also be called "low intervention," "zero-zero," "naked" or "raw" wines. I prefer "low intervention" wines as the easier explanation compared to something sounding like a reality TV survival show. A winemaker might also describe his or her winemaking philosophy as "hands off" or "minimal intervention.”

Natural wines have no regulatory definitions - yet. "Natural" does not appear on the label, but most natural wines are made with organically or bio-dynamically-farmed grapes. The practice includes only wild or native yeasts to trigger fermentation.  There is limited filtration, no added flavor enhancers, limited fining agents, and minimal or no sulfites added as a preservative. It's the winemaker’s discretion to use all or some of this methodology. Because it speaks of a healthy lifestyle and an eco-friendly environment, natural wines are here to stay and business is semi-booming. (Extraordinarily big booming in large metro markets).

Does this mean healthier wines to drink? Yes, of course it does, and the unofficial commentary is people are unofficially feeling better and more importantly, unofficially getting less headaches, especially with red wine.

There is a curve, however. Natural wines can taste different, so don't give up on your first try. White wines can be cloudy...not a problem? Red wines can have sediment...not a problem? I like to recommend natural wines from France and Spain because people are indicating they feel better with wine from these regions.

Research the winery and the "winemakers notes" on what you are drinking. You will be amazed how many wines are following these "natural" practices, and have been for many years. It's difficult to find another industry taking better care of their natural resources than today’s wineries and passionate winemakers.


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