Wine Hunting: Au Naturel
Updated: Jun 8
Photo by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash
So, I don't drink a lot. But, when I do decide to imbibe, you better believe I check the quality of it just like I do my food. The thing is, alcohol doesn't have ingredient labels like our food, so it makes it a little more challenging. I have some key things I look for to try and find the best of the best! About two years ago I found out that "natural" in wine actually means something different, unlike natural on food labels. So weird, right? There has been some debate about what natural wine really means, but basically, it is more likely to be biodynamic or organic and unadulterated.
We live near an awesome liquor store, Binny's which has such a huge selection. I can get lost reading wine labels for well, let's say after three hours my husband let's me know it's time! I think it's important to read the labels on wine; it often gives really great insight. I can find out if it is from a small family, sometimes it will say if it is naturally produced, organic, or biodynamic (even if it isn't certified, it may just say it). I am totally okay if it isn't certified organic or biodynamic if it says it in the description. Those certifications can be expensive, so especially if it is from a smaller vineyard, there could be reasons they aren't certified, or are possibly in the process of obtaining it, so they just include it on the wine label. I also often check out the website of the wine to see if they give more detailed information about the quality of their product. Easy to see how my trip can turn into 3+ hours, right?!
I find that a lot of wines are not necessarily marketed as organic as there is a connotation with it not being tasty. I have had my fair share of both organic and conventional poor wines, so I don't link the bad taste to organic. To go with my post on glyphosate contamination, there is residue in all California wines that have been tested so far, surprisingly. Those winemakers could still be following all the right steps in their production processes; it just means that glyphosate is unfortunately spreading. So just to be safe, I typically go for a non-domestic wine.
I also began following the low alcohol trend, so personally, I look for wines with 12.5% ABV or less. I still choose to try and find my own wines 1. because it is exciting hunting and searching for new bottles (a recent hobby) and 2. it's less expensive (although, there is a little bit of a gamble because my criteria and the limited info on the wine labels do not always ensure the wine is natural).
To quickly recap what I look for:
1. I check the alcohol content (12.5%ABV or less); this weeds out most wines right off the bat.
2. I read the back label to find out if it is a small family, biodynamic, organic, old vines, etc...(some actually say they are dry farmed which is a win(e)! hahaha
3. I check where it's from and lean towards non-domestic wines.
For more information on this topic, research Isabelle Legeron, MW who specializes in natural wines.
Oh, I have to mention that my hubby and I started our wine adventure by taking an e-course with Master of Wine, Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan. It was a blast!
Updated April 2020:
I found out about Clean-Crafted wines and fell in love so much, I became an Independent Consultant. Check out my site and support me here: www.scoutandcellar.com/nicolesnaturalvine If you are interested in a tasting, let me know! Thanks everyone!
Cin cin and #GetSatiated!