Perspectives from Wine Professionals Worldwide on Natural Wine
by Vanessa Charlot
In the expansive world of wine, a spirited debate has developed around the concept of natural wine. In fact, there is even debate about what a “natural wine” is to begin. This intriguing movement celebrates agriculture and the art of fermented beverages with minimal intervention, drawing inspiration from ancient winemaking practices. Similar to efforts like Anything but Vinifera, natural wines can be seen as a way to be more inclusive.
But, opinions on natural wine vary widely. Some express reservations about potential wine faults, others show interest but remain a bit confused about what it is. Some engage with it occasionally. Still others are a part of a dedicated camp of those embracing it exclusively based on principle. As the discussion intensifies and continues to develop, it becomes increasingly interesting to hear from those who devote their lives to the craft.
Several anonymous wine professionals hailing from various corners of the globe share their individual interpretations of what natural wine means to them. Their responses reveal a diverse and captivating array of perspectives that shed light on the multifaceted nature of this sometimes confusing topic.
The responses span a spectrum of opinions, making it clear that natural wine sparks a range of perspectives among wine professionals worldwide. As the movement continues to evolve, it is evident that there is opportunity for further education, dialogue, and discernment to assist in the navigation of the complexities of this topic.
“In my opinion, the natural wine movement reflects a yearning for a more simple and traditional way of making wines that are unadulterated by chemicals and additives. It takes incredible skill to produce a wine using minimal intervention that is free of faults. While I believe there is a time and place for any wine, I have a hard time seeing consumers pay a premium for faulted wines!”
- Former Sommelier & Wine Marketing Professional, Canada
Natural wine is a good thing, but for me it is not the only thing. Natural Wine is as much a part of the wine family as more conventionally made ones. My only reservation regards stability, but if a “Natural Wine” has clean fruit, some boldness of style and flavour with an edge of spritz, what’s not to like?
- Wine Writer & Master of Wine Candidate, France
“From my perspective, natural wines are as much about attitude and vibes surrounding the wines as they are about how they are made. They have this aspect of minimum intervention, but range wildly in style and quality. What binds them together for me is the statement of being wines that aspire to be free, authentic, and pure by rejecting wine-making practices thought to harm or constrain the wine.”
- Wine Sales Manager, Iceland
“Natural wine is often a funky surprise for me. They often have interesting labels that attract people’s attention. Sometimes it can be very palatable. However, it can be unpleasant and show less than favorable aromas due to the lack of proper handling.”
- Wine Educator and Sommelier, Taiwan
“For me, natural wine starts with the soil. I want the winegrowers to be good stewards of the land for future generations; not using any sprays or chemicals in the vines, planting biodiversity and possibly using animals to help work the land. In the winery, I want them to respect the grapes and let the grapes do the talking. They should only use indigenous yeast and work without chemicals or additives. Sulfur is a personal choice. I prefer my wines without added sulfur as I feel it mutes the energy and life of the wine. However, I can see the case of adding a little bit (under 30 mg/L) at bottling to preserve the wine, especially if it’s being shipped across an ocean.”
- Restaurateur, USA
“Natural wines are wine without science, paying more for an inferior product. It’s a trend that should be avoided, and not enjoyable in most cases”
- Spirits Producer, Mexico
“In my opinion, it’s still in its innovation stage. I like the concept, but the reason why I rarely consume natural wines is because it has a lot of bottle variation. Therefore, you never know what you are going to get. And as a professional, natural wines don’t make for effective training/tasting. However, I have been gradually increasing my consumption of natural wines very selectively.”.
- Wine Tourism Professional, China
“Natural wine means stepping outside of current traditional winemaking methods and into a more innovative winemaking approach that reveals the winemaker’s prowess and connection to the craft. This is done with minimal intervention and maximum observation which offers a true expression of the grapes, land and expertise.”
- Wine Marketing Professional, France
“I don’t know much about natural wine. But it seems like you either love it or you hate it. As interested as I am in natural wines with the funky, yeasty, and unfiltered styles in these wines, I would taste them and certainly want to know more about the wine. But, I don’t think I would go out of my way to buy one for myself.”
- Sommelier, Congo
“I am indifferent to it, wine for me is a social drink and as long as it’s not gone bad I will drink it. However, some people believe that natural wine is in fact, wine gone bad. I don’t subscribe to that thought process but I also don’t believe that natural wine is the cleanest – most enjoyable style of wine to drink.”
- Spirits Producer, India
“Natural wines are more adventurous, from winemaking to aroma and taste profiles, there’s a diversity beyond traditional wines.”
- Hospitality Management Professional, Brazil
“I believe natural wines are an acquired taste. We mostly associate drinking wine with more traditional wines. Further, if someone wants to engage with more natural wines, it might be necessary to just get used to it.”
- Hospitality Professional, France
“The term ‘natural wine’ doesn’t sit well with me. What does it mean? Perhaps the greenwashing of using words like ‘natural,’ ‘organic,’ ‘biodynamic’, etc. without providing any real clarity to the average consumer. It’s confusing.”
- Beverage Consultant, India
“To conceptualize natural wine today really requires thinking about it in the same way as the craft beer scene. With so much wine portraying itself as Natural it is up to consumer discretion to find a level of judgment. In the coming years, we will see the producers of quality define natural wine away from the negative stereotypes.”
- Wine & Spirits Education Influencer, USA
“Natural wines represent a return to the roots of winemaking, with a focus on authenticity, terroir, and a sense of place. And it is a reaction against the industrialization of wine production, and a desire for wines that express the character of the grapes and the land.”
- Beverage Manager, India
If you’re interested in natural wines, definitely check out our recent post, featuring natural winemaker Marreya Bailey.