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A GUIDE TO CHOOSING NATURAL WINES

We've compiled a bunch of interesting notes on how conventional wines differ from contemporary ones and common terms that you will hear when describing a natural wine. This page will continue to evolve!


From Fanta to rust to Orangina, this seemingly new trend, in reality, is ancient. By twisting the conventional white winemaking process and allowing the juice to macerate and ferment on its skins (from a few days up to a few months like the Italian Radikon) you end up with an orange wine.

They have an unusual taste for those used to conventional wines, often with tannic intensity and the texture of a red. Paired with food, notice the tannins soften and flavour profile pop. See below for what tannin even is.

 

If you drink conventional whites, then this category is likely to surprise you the most. Natural whites tend to be fuller in style and more unusual than their conventional counterparts.

White wine is usually made by fermenting only the juice, no skins. Naturals tend to add a -small- period of skin contact during fermentation.

Whereas conventional whites would often rely on sulphur to block transformations of acids (malic to latic acid) natural winemakers often believe this hampers the full flavour and texture profile a wine is capable of.

 

Natural reds aren’t radically different from those conventional ones, as conventional reds are generally made more naturally that any other style. The juice is left to stew on the skins (and pips or stems) giving it that deep colour.

Natural reds tend to steer away from the aroma of new oak. Often the fruit is harvested at full ripeness, but isn’t left to hang to build up a jam flavour, which is often the case with conventionals.

 

Called Rosé, blush or vin gris, pink wines are crafted with grape varietals from red skins or red flesh, with colour leaching into the wine. This is done through small periods of skin contact in maceration.

Other methods for pinks can by blending red and white wines together or skimming off part of the re-wine production at the beginning of its fermentation process. Its darkness or lightness depends on a variety of factors, length of skin contact time, pigment strength or grape variety. Many winemakers create pinks as an afterthought, so make sure the winemaker has the right intention when venturing into pinks.

 

Fizz. We all used to know only Champagne when it came to bubbly wine, however, there are more and more growers and winemakers experimenting with natural sparkling.

The ancestral and more natural approach, of which most winemakers at Notwasted will follow, is the normal natural winemaking process (wild/vineyard occuring yeasts and sugar fermented). However, all of this is done in the bottle so the carbon dioxide is trapped. Natural bubble is a real art because bottle too late and your sparkling will be flat, bottle too early and the bottle may explode!

 


WINE JARGON

Ferment

The process by which yeasts break down sugars into ethanol (alcohol) and carbon dioxide. Natural winemakers rely on wild (vineyard) yeasts, conventionals kill wild and import yeast. 

Tannins

Tannin is a naturally occurring polyphenol found in bark, plants, seeds, wood fruit skins etc. Simply put, tannins add both dryness and acidity to wine. Skin contact in fermentation and oak ageing are instigators of tannins.

Macerate

Colour, aroma compounds and tannins are leached into the wine by soaking grapes, grape seeds and stems amongst the wine juice.

Sulphur

Sulfur or sulphur is an abundant, nonmetallic chemical element. Found on your periodic chart with the letter S.

Body

The alcoholic content is one of the main contributors to the ‘weight’ of wine. The higher the alcohol content, the weightier the mouth feels. Extracts (tannins, sugars etc.), the winemaking process of the winemaker and grape varieties also contribute to the body of a wine. 

Skin Contact

The process of leaving the skins of grapes to ferment with the juice for hours, days or event months.

Acidity

When someone describes acidity in wine, this refers to the tartness or sourness of it. If you like a ‘crisp’ wine, then you prefer more acidic wine.

 


Carbonic Fizz From Whole Bunch Fermentation

It’s becoming increasingly popular within the natural winemaking community to look back to past traditional ways of fermenting with whole bunches of grapes. This involves fermenting everything together rather than just the grapes (stems and/or pips).

It is said that by following this method, if the stems are perfectly ripe, it can introduce an element of freshness, complexity, texture and other interesting aromas to the wine.

This is becoming especially prevalent with natural reds.

Can you taste the difference of a whole bunch?