Wine shops across the country are expanding their offerings to include more natural wine. If you buy wine often, you may have been seen words like "organic," "biodynamic," and "low-intervention" on bottles. But besides the aesthetically pleasing labels and vibrant hues inside the bottle, it's difficult to identify the real difference between natural wine and the standard wine you may be more used to sipping.
We chatted with Jack Brogan, sales representative at the New York-based natural wine distributor Super Glou, to demystify all of the misconceptions surrounding this trendy wine category.
What Is Natural Wine?Natural Wine BenefitsTypes Of Natural WineWhat Should You Look For When Buying Natural Wine?Natural Wine Recommendations
What Is Natural Wine?
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This question doesn't come with an easy answer. Just like with the word "natural" food-product labels, the term "natural wine" has no definitive meaning. It's primarily considered an umbrella category that encompasses many styles of winemaking that abide by a general principle of low intervention.
“Typically when we say minimal intervention, we mean low or no use of chemicals in the vineyards, no herbicides, no pesticides, little or no spraying of copper sulfates," Brogan says. "And in the winery there’s low or no use of sulfur and using only ambient yeasts [rather than inoculated yeast] to start fermentation. But everyone's checklist is a little different.”
Certain checklists meet the requirements for government-approved certification, like organic and biodynamic. But generally speaking, natural winemakers follow the philosophy of incorporating techniques from a time before the industry was industrialized for widespread distribution.
“It is the oldest form of winemaking. Some of the earliest recorded winemaking was in Georgia [the country] 6,000 years ago. They didn't have access to the pesticides and herbicides that we use today," Brogan says.
Natural Wine Benefits
If you've been introduced to natural wine before, you may have heard the claim that it's "healthier" for you and can even diminish the effects of a hangover. As much as we'd like for it to be true, it's sadly a myth. Even without extra additives and preservatives, it's still alcohol.
But that doesn't mean drinking natural wine comes without benefits—in fact, the production process allows the flavor of the grape to truly shine. Part of that comes from the minimal to no sulfur. The use of this compound in winemaking dates back to ancient Rome, but its widespread commercial application in wine began in earnest in the early 1900s.
On a practical level, sulfur is an antioxidant and an antiseptic that prevents "harmful" bacteria from proliferating in wine. But in excess, it can completely alter the wine's character.
“Lots of winemakers believe that over-sulfuring your wines doesn't just kill all of the bad bacteria—it kills the good parts of wine, too," says Brogan. "Wine has an aliveness and a personality, and if you over-sulfur it, you kind of box it in, in a way.”
Without the extra sulfur, yeast, and other additives, natural wine truly captures the terroir of where it comes from. The word, which literally translates to "soil," refers to all of the environmental factors that contribute to how the grape tastes. This can include the dirt, topography, and climate.
“Most of the time, lots of these natural winemakers have such a heavy focus on terroir that they are thinking about what has grown historically where they live, where they make wine, and they will use those," says Brogan. He argues that natural wine has "so much more to offer from a flavor standpoint."
Beyond the differences in flavor, the natural-wine industry also comes with environmental and ethical benefits. Unlike large commercial wineries whose bottles you can find at every wine store, natural winemakers typically run smaller operations with limited batches. And, since they avoid using industrial chemicals during the farming process, their environmental footprint is much smaller than those of large conventional vineyards.
"There’s more emphasis on the way they farm and how it impacts the environment, as well as the labor they use and how fairly they’re paid," says Brogan. "That ethos of natural wine spans beyond just what’s in the glass. It’s everything, every factor about where it comes from and how it’s made.”
Types Of Natural Wine
Identifying all of the types of natural wine is just as impossible as listing all of the conventional wine varieties. There is an infinite amount of ways to make wine, natural or otherwise. “Technically speaking, you can take any grape in the world and you can make natural wine out of it," says Brogan.
On the most basic level, you can find red, white, sparkling, and rosé wine that happens to be natural. But as you go from country to country, region to region, you can identify individual grape varietals that come with their own special qualities.
If you're somewhat familiar with natural wine already, you may be asking: "What's orange wine?" This trendy wine is, in fact, a type of white wine (and has nothing to do with the fruit). The vibrant hue comes from the process of maceration, which keeps the skins and seeds of white grapes in contact with the wine.
This technique may seem newfangled, but it's actually one of the oldest ways to make wine. In the country of Georgia, where some of the first recorded wines were made, orange wine is historically beloved. Now you can find types of macerated white wines all over the world.
"It's grown in popularity, as it's a more ancient technique. There's been a correlation between orange wine and natural wine because a lot of the natural wine in the U.S. that became very popular happens to be orange," says Brogan. "But orange wine is just one small piece of the natural wine pie.”
What Should You Look For When Buying Natural Wine?
Just like with conventional wine, you can't base the quality of the bottle on the label. The best way to learn more about natural wine and the varietals and winemakers you like is by doing research and tasting lots of wine. Utilizing online resources and talking to a wine seller or sommelier are also great ways to learn more.
Sometimes labels can be misleading. Some wineries capitalize on natural wine's popularity without employing its core values. “There are so many wines that are coming out that are marketed as ‘natural wine’ where their labor, farming, or winemaking practices should be under more scrutiny," says Brogan.
To avoid picking these bottles, he recommends looking at wine with a critical eye. “There are some wines that tick a lot of boxes: you have this wine, you seem to have a lot of it, it’s somehow all natural, and it’s cheap," Brogan explains. "Something doesn’t necessarily add up for some of these bottles. Labor is a logical place to look.”
On the flip side, many natural wine bottles are hiding in plain sight. Some of the most sought-after conventional wines happen to follow the same principles of low-intervention as natural winemakers do—just without the label.
“There is a lot of really beautifully made wine that markets itself as classic and conventional, but they're not using sulfur or other chemical additives and they're farming well.”
Despite this, many members of the conventional wine community look at natural wine with disdain. Some chalk it up to just being a short-lived fad, and that all the wines are too faulty, too funky, or generally inferior. Naturally, Brogan disagrees.
“I think that the line between natural wine and conventional wine isn't as stark as we think it is," he says. "Because there's lots of conventional wine that's really beautiful, and also lots of conventional wine that's really messed up. That’s the same no matter what style of wine you're drinking.”
The world of wine can be intimidating, especially if you're just starting to explore it. But when in doubt, just ask.
Natural Wine Recommendations
Before selecting a bottle of natural wine to drink, you may need to reconfigure your perspective. Because so much of the wine available on store shelves is from large-scale factory-style wineries, it's easy to assume that all wine is in abundance whenever.
"We've been taught to think that wine is something that’s available all the time whenever you want. In reality, it’s really a perennial product, especially with natural wine that's made in such small quantities," Brogan says. "Sometimes you will buy a bottle, you'll drink it, and you will never be able to drink it again. That’s the mystique and the beauty of it.”
With that being said, you can find wineries and distributors you trust to point you in the right direction. For bottle recommendations, check out these Sommelier-approved picks.
Gabby Romero is Delish’s editorial assistant, where she writes stories about the latest TikTok trends, develops recipes, and answers any and all of your cooking-related questions. She loves eating spicy food, collecting cookbooks, and adding a mountain of Parmesan to any dish she can.
"Natural wine is wine made without the use of pesticides or herbicides and with little to no additives," says Sarah Marjoram, RD. "Because these additives are often blamed for causing a hangover, natural wine enthusiasts suggest they are less likely to result in one.Are there any health benefits to natural wine? ›
They neutralize damaging free radicals that stress your cells. Natural wines – those without chemicals or additives – have a diverse variety of polyphenols, including Resveratrol (lowers inflammation), Procyanidins (strong antioxidants), Ellagic acid (helps regulate blood sugar), and much more.What does the phrase natural wine mean to you? ›
What Is Natural Wine? As with any natural product, the term natural wine simply indicates that nothing artificial has been added to the grape growing or winemaking processes.What is different about natural wine? ›
Natural wines rely on naturally-occurring yeast for fermentation, and winemakers add little to no additives or preservatives, such as sulfites, to the fermenting grape juice before bottling and aging. Additionally, winemakers do not filter or fine natural wines, unlike conventional wines.What is the point of drinking non-alcoholic wine? ›
The same study concludes that non-alcoholic wine can reduce the risk of heart diseases by 14% and strokes by as high as 20%. Although research is in the early stages, the consumption of alcohol-free wine was also associated with reduced risks of certain types of cancer.What does Dr Gundry say about wine? ›
Red wines have the most polyphenols but rosé wines also have some as well. However, Dr. Gundry recommends opting for reds because they have the highest polyphenol content. True sparkling wines are also okay on special occasions.Is natural wine anti inflammatory? ›
Natural substance in red wine has an anti-inflammatory effect in cardiovascular diseases. Summary: A natural substance present in red wine, resveratrol, inhibits the formation of inflammatory factors that trigger cardiovascular diseases, a research team concludes.Is natural wine high in sugar? ›
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a five-ounce glass of red table wine typically contains about 0.9 grams of total sugar, while a glass of chardonnay contains about 1.4 grams. A sweet dessert wine, typically served in a smaller two- to three-ounce glass, contains as much as 7 grams of sugar.What is the spiritual meaning of wine? ›
New wine is symbolic of the Holy Spirit and has various illustrations in the Bible. First, Jesus spoke of the new wine in association with the move of God (Matt 9:17). Second, new wine is also associated with the harvest.What is the healthiest wine to drink daily? ›
Try a pinot noir
Pinot noir has a reputation for being a healthy wine. This is because pinot grapes have thin skin, which means they have low tannins but high resveratrol.
Regular winemaking filters sediment and bacteria, leaving behind little benefits for your gut. You can typically enjoy less sugar and fewer carbs when you drink natural wines. It is also often noted that natural wines are better for reducing the symptoms of a hangover.Why is natural wine more expensive? ›
Natural wine is usually more expensive
When it comes to everyday bottles, at least. It's much easier to make traditional, mass-produced wine than a natural wine, which involves hand picking and pruning, and laborious low-tech processing – and time is, after all, money.
You can use dealcoholized wine in all the same ways as regular wine — though it won't make you feel intoxicated. Commonly, the alcohol is removed with industrial processes such as reverse osmosis ( 2 , 5 ).Can a child drink non-alcoholic wine? ›
They aren't made the same, they don't taste the same, and non-alcoholic wine is not suitable for children or those under 21 although they are considered “non-alcoholic”. Sparkling grape juice is just that, grape juice with bubbles.Is it healthier to drink no alcohol? ›
In fact, the latest dietary guidelines make it clear that no one should begin drinking alcohol or drink more often on the basis of potential health benefits. For many people, the possible benefits don't outweigh the risks and avoiding alcohol is the best course.What is the one food Dr. Gundry says to avoid? ›
What are the 3 foods Dr. Gundry says to avoid? He recommends avoiding grains like wheat and corn found in bread and pasta, undercooked legumes and beans, and sweeteners or high-sugar foods, such as cookies.Does the Bible say wine is good for you? ›
Paul says, "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities" (1 Tim 5:23).What drink does Dr. Gundry recommend? ›
Steven Gundry MD on Twitter: "Sparkling water (preferably San Pellegrino), unsweetened green / herbal tea, kombucha (low sugar flavors like Kevita Mojito), red wine etc." / Twitter.Is wine good for arthritis? ›
Red wine contains a compound called resveratrol, which has potent anti-inflammatory effects. Studies show that red wine consumption is associated with a reduced risk of knee-related osteoarthritis. It can also cut risk factors contributing to rheumatoid arthritis.Which wine is best for inflammation? ›
Red wine. Red wine contains a compound called resveratrol, which has been found to have both anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
Many wine experts consider pinot noir to be the healthiest red wine because it contains the highest concentration of resveratrol. Pinot noir also contains fewer calories than other red wine varieties and may be less likely to cause heartburn thanks to its relatively low tannin content.Can diabetics drink wine? ›
What to know about diabetes and drinking wine. Most people with diabetes can drink alcohol, including wine, as long as they do not have another medical condition that makes drinking unsafe. Wine may even offer some protective health benefits in small quantities.How long does natural wine last? ›
Once opened, store bottles sealed with a cork in your fridge. 5. DRINK SOON. Consume natural wines within two to three days after opening.Is organic wine the same as natural wine? ›
An important distinction: All natural wines are organic, but not all organic wines would be considered natural. Some organic wine cellar regulations permit the use of additives and fining agents that are against the spirit of natural winemaking.Can you drink wine according to the Bible? ›
But the Bible goes further than admitting that drinking is simply allowed. Throughout Scripture, the production and consumption of beer and wine are often connected to the covenant promises of God. Under the old covenant, wine is a blessing (Deut 7:13; 11:14) and the absence of wine a curse (28:39, 51).Was the wine alcoholic in the Bible? ›
Biblical wine was grown and produced in the most natural way possible. Therefore, it was composed of low levels of both alcohol and sugar. It also did not include any of the modern additives that are often used today.What does the wine represent in God? ›
This is the cup of redemption, which is also the symbolic cup to which Jesus referred as representing his blood shed for us. Jesus' fulfillment of being the cup of redemption signaled the release of the new covenant written in blood.What kind of wine is good for kidneys? ›
Even though both red wine and white wine have similar impacts on health but red wine has a slightly higher composition of vitamins and minerals which boosts the condition of the kidneys and reduces the risks of chronic kidney diseases.Is it OK to drink a bottle of wine a day? ›
Drinking a bottle of wine per day is not considered healthy by most standards. However, when does it morph from a regular, innocent occurrence into alcohol use disorder (AUD) or alcoholism? First, it's important to note that building tolerance in order to drink an entire bottle of wine is a definitive red flag.What is the best wine for your stomach? ›
Red wine could be good for the gut, increasing the number of different types of helpful bacteria that can live there, according to researchers. The benefits are likely to come from polyphenols - compounds that white wine, beer and cider have far less of, the King's College London team says.
Natural wine is generally lower in alcohol content than conventional wine, which may help to explain why people feel they can drink more without paying for it the next day.Does natural wine prevent hangovers? ›
Organic food has a reputation for being healthier than conventional, and there's some evidence for that. But when it comes to organic wine, the health benefits are much less clear, experts say. And they won't help you avoid a hangover.Do natural wines have less alcohol? ›
The answer is yes, natural wines tend to have less alcohol content. Many conventional wineries add sugar during the fermentation process, speeding up production and increasing the alcohol level. Without added sugar, natural wine will be naturally lower in alcohol content.