Updated: May 19, 2020
You’ve no doubt heard the buzz around Natural Wine maybe even Biodynamic Wine or Organic Wine. With overall trends toward eating organic, freshly prepared foods, it’s no wonder consumers want a healthy approach to the wine they drink. But what does Natural, Biodynamic, and Organic mean when it comes to wine? Let’s take a closer look.
To make Natural Wine, producers follow a minimal intervention approach to winemaking. This means they don’t add lab-grown yeast, sulfites, sugar, acidity, and they skip the oak barrels. It also means they don’t filter out impurities such as proteins or microbes.
At the same time, some wineries add small amounts of sulfites which helps to stabilize the wine. However, the amount of sulfites added is significantly less compared to conventional wines.
Since natural wine is unfiltered, it will be cloudy. It’s known for its funky, sour taste and barnyard aromas.
Currently, there is no legal definition or regulation for Natural Wine and any producer can claim this on their wine label.
Biodynamic means there are no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides used. Only natural fertilizers such as plant compounds mixed with rainwater are used. The vineyard is treated as an entire ecosystem with local plants growing right alongside the vines. These vineyards look wild and alive compared to the pristine clean-cut vineyards where stray plants are quickly removed or suppressed. The key factor of a biodynamic winery is the influence of astrology and lunar cycles used to determine when to plow, treat, and harvest the grapes. And even when to open a bottle.
During winemaking, the only requirement is to use wild yeast that’s in the air (not lab produced) and to refrain from making acidity adjustments. This doesn’t go as far as the practices just described for Natural Wine.
Biodynamic practices are not regulated. However, there are Biodynamic certifications available through a third-party. These certifications are expensive and many small wine producers who follow these practices don’t spend the money to obtain the certification. This ends up making it harder to know who’s truly following these practices.
On a side note, my husband and I visited a small, biod