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What is Natural Wine?

What is Natural Wine? A definition

What is it?

While there is no definitive definition of what natural wine is, it usually refers to a style of wine making that rejects the use or drastically limits the use of chemicals and technological manipulation both in the vineyard and the cellars. The vineyards adhere to organic, biodynamic and/or sustainable farming practices.

Natural wines are fermented spontaneously with native yeast, and has no additives except for a small amount of sulfur in some cases to stabilize the wine right before bottling. Wines are bottled unfiltered and unfined, as well as avoiding aging the wines in new oak or any other techniques that would impart the wine's makeup.

Because natural wines are very low intervention, therefore making the wine a lot less stable, natural wines tend to be made in smaller quantities, making them highly allocated and unique.

To learn a bit more about the essentials of natural wine both NPR and Wine Enthusiast have articles with some basic information.

Organic v. Biodynamic v. Sustainable

Wine Enthusiast discusses the basics of natural wine certifications, like how to differentiate between terms like organic, sustainable and biodynamic.

Wine Folly also has a helpful article in defining and making sense of the numerous wine certifications in wine sustainability, both in the US and internationally.

Certified Sustainable Organic Wines

Talking About Wine 101

Wine Folly has a very useful glossary of wine terms that can be helpful when coming across terms you might be unfamiliar with.

Additionally, Bon Appetit has a useful article on how to expand your wine vocabulary, something that could come in handy when asking for suggestions or describing what you like in your wine.

If you are anxious when buying wine and don't know how to talk about your wine preferences, this article is very helpful. Finally, if you find the idea of talking to a sommelier panic inducing, this piece by Bon Appetit's wine editor, Marissa Ross, might change your opinion!

Bon Appetit also has this useful image on how to read a wine label:

https://assets.bonappetit.com/photos/57c5c547a184a3c9209db7a6/master/w_2880/wine-label-guide-2.jpg

If you truly have no clue about wine at all but want to learn how to get some good wine recommendations, Bon Appetit and GQ have useful guides on how to gain confidence when buying wine.

How to Talk About the Way Wine Tastes Without Sounding Like a Jerk

Books

How to Drink Natural Wine Like Someone Who Knows What They're Doing

Natural Wine: An introduction to organic and biodynamic wines made naturally by Isabelle Legereon - Find out more about natural wine―made naturally from organically or biodynamically grown grapes―from leading authority Isabelle Legeron MW.

ISBN: 978-1782494836

Publication Date: 2017-10-10

Natural Wine for the People: What It Is, Where to Find It, How to Love It by Alice Feiring - Today, wine is more favored and consumed that it's ever been in the United States--and millennials are leading the charge, drinking more wine than any other generation in history. James Beard Award-winner Alice Feiring sets the record straight, offering a pithy, accessible guide filled with easy definitions, tips and tricks for sourcing the best wines, whimsical illustrations, a definitive list to the must-know producers and bottlings, and an appendix with the best shops and restaurants specializing in natural wine across the country.

ISBN: 978-0399582431

Publication Date: 2019-08-06

Wine. All the Time: The Casual Guide to Confident Drinking by Marissa A. Ross - In this utterly accessible yet comprehensive guide to wine, Ross will walk you through the ins and outs of wine culture. Told in her signature comedic voice, with personal anecdotes woven in among its lessons, Wine. All the Time. will teach you to sip confidently, and make you laugh as you're doing it.

ISBN: 978-0399574160

Publication Date: 2017-06-27

Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine by Madeleine Puckette and Justin Hammack - Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine will help you make sense of it all in a unique infographic wine book. Designed by the creators of WineFolly.com, which has won Wine Blogger of the Year from the International Wine & Spirits Competition, this book combines sleek, modern information design with data visualization and gives readers pragmatic answers to all their wine questions. Packed with information and encouragement, Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine will empower your decision-making with practical knowledge and give you confidence at the table.

ISBN: 978-1592408993

Publication Date: 2015-09-22

Why is Natural Wine Trending?

There's numerous reasons why natural wine has become more mainstream, this piece from The New York Times unpacks the reasons why natural wine has slowly been increasing in popularity.

Natural wine is a rejection of the "big wine industry", natural wine producers see it as an ecological disaster and creative dead end, and some wine producers use it as a way to express themselves rather than make a profit.

11 Natural Wines That Taste as Good as They Look

Another way in which natural wine has gone "against" tradition, is that increasingly, more women winemakers are starting to get recognized for their wines. These are a few articles that talk about the rise of female winemakers:

Moreover, natural wines have also started to appear prominently in restaurants, as exemplified in this New York Times article and this Eater article.

Where to Find Natural Wine in NYC

NYC Wine Shops

  1. Astor Wines
  2. Corkscrew Wines
  3. Dandelion Wine
  4. Flatiron Wines
  5. Forêt
  6. Henry's
  7. Irving Bottle
  8. The Natural Wine Co
  9. Thirst Wine Merchants
  10. Uva Wines

NYC Restaurants

Using a couple of guides from local websites and magazines, like Eater NY, RESY and Time Out NY, I compiled a small list of restaurants and wine bars with wine lists that focus on natural wines. I made sure to include all price ranges.

  1. Achilles Heel
  2. Cervo's
  3. Chez Ma Tante
  4. Diner
  5. Estela
  6. Hart's
  7. Have & Meyer
  8. Four Horsemen
  9. Frenchette
  10. June Wine Bar
  11. Maison Premiere
  12. Ops
  13. Racines
  14. Roberta's
  15. Ruffian
  16. St Anselm
  17. The Ten Bells
  18. Wildair

Learn More

Image result for eric wareheim natural wine

Some people to follow:

Marissa A. Ross - is a writer, humorist, and leisure enthusiast. Marissa is now the Wine Editor at Bon Appétit and author of the book aptly named, Wine. All The Time.: The Casual Guide To Confident Drinking. (Plume, June 2017)

Adam Vourvoulis - Winemaker and sommelier based in LA, he was part of Wine Enthusiast’s “Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers” in 2016. He's a big proponent of natural wine.

Jorge Riera - Sommelier and wine director at Frenchette, Riera is focused on natural wine. 

Eric Wareheim - Comedian, wine enthusiast and winemaker, Wareheim features numerous suggestions for where to drink natural wine and what to drink.

Some pages to follow:

The Glug Report - Based in Brooklyn, NY, this page focuses on featuring new producers and vintages of natural wine.

Super Glou - SUPER GLOU launched in 2018 as an importer and distributor of small-production/low-intervention wines and spirits in New York. They work with radical individuals guided by taste and texture over dogma. 

Events and Classes in NYC

RAW WINE NYC - RAW WINE is a totally independent wine fair created and organised by Isabelle Legeron MW. It celebrates wines with emotion. RAW WINE is about showcasing growers whose fundamental farming and cellar philosophies make these living wines possible. Many of these wines feature on the lists of the world’s best restaurants. With yearly fairs in NYC, Los Angeles, Montreal, London, and Berlin.

Astor Wine Center - Astor Center is where NYC goes to learn about wine, spirits, and cocktails. Located near Astor Place in NoHo, we’ve been pairing education and entertainment since 2008. Astor Center provides a growing range of wine classes, whiskey tastings, sake seminars, and cocktail workshops for beginner to advanced imbibers.

Petra - Petra representes a first foray into the fancy casual dining experience, where one can get a high quality meal with bargain prices on natural wine. Hosting events keeps the place lively and making you feel like you are at a fancy intimate house party. For updates on tastings and events follow their instagram page.