Before we go into the most popular myths about natural wines, let us draw a line what are they. Natural wines or those made without added sulphites (or sulfites as some spell it) are produced with minimal intervention in the winery. Winemakers who follow this movement do not specifically encourage or discourage natural processes in the winery, so the wines in some way produces by itself, as nature intended.
Organic movement clarifies and regulates what is happening in the vineyard - no artificial chemicals or harmful pesticides. Natural winemaking ensures that you are not getting some nasty things which are added in the winery. Hope it makes sense!
Wine that was produced naturally will still contain some animal levels of sulphites, usually below 20 mg/l. Law insists that winemakers should put ‘contains sulphites’ on the label regardless if they are naturally occurring or added if the levels are above 10 mg/l. This creates some confusion as plenty of natural wines fall into a bracket of 10-20mg/l, so you see this note on the label, however sulphites are naturally occurring and harmless. So just you know, extreme cases when people are very sensitive to sulphites occur when the concentration exceeds 45 mg/l. Organic wines are already made with much lower quantities - less than 100 mg/l, but if you are sensitive, you need to shop for natural wines with no added sulphites (marked on our site as sulphite free wines)
Let’s go now into some popular misconceptions. We have collected 7 most frequently asked in-store or online.
The smell of freshness, fermented wine and young character of natural wine can indeed be a bit too much. Extreme examples include aromas of cardboard, rotten eggs and forest floor. In these cases you can return the bottle or send it back in the restaurant. It sometimes happens with all the wines, doesn't matter natural or conventional.
The other thing is that in natural winemaking all processes happen naturally so winemakers do not forcefully stop anything (or encourage) - it might just be that the wine started to re-ferment. Again, if your nose smells a fault - send it back. Good quality natural wines smell fresh, almost like just out of the barrel but not faulty. We will recommend to aerate a very playful natural wine - it can be just too unusual and too playful, so it needs some air to express itself in a more balanced way!
It is about great grapes, they need to be hand harvested and then processed in clean and hygienic environment in the winery. Most of them are a product of Organic viticulture. Natural wines in general assume no intervention during winemaking process and to work in sync with nature. Fermentation is being carried out using natural yeasts. If you can do it all... well, we are so looking forward to trying your wines!
Amateur? Again, it is a bit subjective statement, but having said that some natural wines won top awards at the international wine tasting panels.
If you refer with this comparison to some big well known companies then yes - these natural wines are artisan wines, they reflect the soil but also heart and soul of the winemaker. If you call it amateur we will happily concur.
Some of them are quite unpalatable. We also do not know why they were released. Yet it is probably that they find their customer- some people have unusual palates don't you think?
We together with our WSET certified wine expert and our customers personally handpick natural wines to ensure no major misses or unpalatable examples.
Every wine can taste bad if produced with mistakes or shortcuts, it is essential for wine experts to taste them all before they hit any retail shelves or Internet pages.
Yes and there is no doubt about that.
First of all, certified or not, natural wines are made with minimal or no interventions in the winery so it means maximum synchronisation with nature. It maximises nutrients and antioxidant levels*. In addition to that you do not adding nasty pesticide residue into your body.
Recent studies* also confirmed that natural wines made without added sulphites also being consumed and tolerated by your liver better. That means potentially a lighter effect on your body, less headaches if you are prone to it, but please note, we still insist you stick to drinkaware guidelines.
*Organic wine benefits as per Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Southampton, University of Rome’s Clinical Nutrition, University of California at Davis and University of Newcastle.
Yes, it is true, sulphites are added to loads of foods to preserve it. It is in your dried apricots in an enormous quantity just to give you an example. A can of coke will have more than 200 mg/l.
Conventional winemaking not only preserves the wine but masks unwanted flavours and makes the wines look and taste the same year after year by drowning you with loads of sulphites.
People are generally not very sensitive to them, studies only tentatively confirm that there could be 3-5% people who can be very sensitive. These include people who suffer from allergies and increasingly asthmatics.
In some way it is like buying fresh ingredients and pre-made food. The latter contains much less goodness but also can taste 'as expected'.
See our point?
This one is difficult to tackle - in some way sulphites are exactly added to prolong wine’s life, stabilise the wine and preserve it for you. On the other hand natural wines are living wines, they live in the bottle, develop and become more complex with age, call it wine wisdom or complexity of flavours. However depending on the style, grape variety and circumstances they can die and the absence of sulphites will ensure that they are really dead, being not suitable to drink after.
There are examples of natural wines that were kept in good cellars for 10-15 years and they taste amazing after. On the other spectre, there are wines which are past their best after a few years.
Please have a chat with us if in doubt whether a particular natural wine is likely to age well.
It is a continuation of the previous myth, so you already know what we had to say about the wine’s age. Some winemakers also prefer cleaner styles of wine so they do not age their wines in oak at all. In that case you will have a purer and moe straightforward fruit, but some grape varieties can be naturally very tannic. Oak smoothes those astringent tannins and make the wine rounder. We have got natural wines which were not aged in oak, but also a few ones that are oaked - up to you to decide which to try!
We believe that natural wines made without adding any sulphites are not just for people with wine intolerances.
These natural wines are expressive, they are healthier for you and also represent a direct continuation of organic principles - farmers ensure healthier growing environment and winemakers produce these fantastic wines without adding nasty stuff too. These are living wines and it is just extremely exciting to think about and try them out!
Most of these natural wines have amazing stories, delicious flavours delivered by passionate winemaking. See for yourself with our largest selection of sulphite free wines in the UK: browse natural wine cases or our full collection of sulphite free wine in our wine list!