If you’ve ever been to a wine tasting, or even been surrounded by wine lovers at any point, you’d know that conversations about the taste of the wine, its colour, aroma, terroir, and varietals are par for the course. But now, more people are moving beyond these standard discussions to question new ranges of wines such as natural, organic wines, and biodynamic. Even though, all three fall under the same broader category, they are still unique. Here’s everything you need to know about these exclusive wines.
Natural wine is currently the new darling of the healthy eating world. What most people aren’t aware of is that while it’s trendy, the process of making natural wines is actually the first and oldest methods. Generally, natural wines contain no chemical additives – from growing the fruit to the fermentation, blending, and bottling process. These wines are chemical-free, and so the natural taste doesn’t get altered, which means you might not get the same flavour like a regular wine. However, this is a welcome byproduct of creating natural wines.
Regular wine, on the other hand, tends to contain more chemicals and additives to alter the liquid, such as genetically-modified yeast strains to correct the colour, flavour, and even mouthfeel of the wine. But, there’s a caveat to natural wines – there are no strict regulations involved in natural wine-making, which mean that every natural winemaker out there will have their own idea on the processes that makes it natural. Your best bet is VinNatur, an established organisation that helps define and regulate brands that want to venture into making natural wine.
Organic wines mean that it uses grapes that were grown organically; sans any synthetic interventions including pesticides, synthetic fertilisers, and herbicides to ensure a good crop yield. Instead, it uses organic fertilisers and crop rotation. Unlike natural wine, organic wines might contain a little chemical – sulfites, to be exact. They’re naturally-occurring and a byproduct of alcohol fermentation. However, winemakers for regular wines might add more sulfites to the process to ensure longer lifespan of wines. Most organic winemakers won’t add any additional sulfites to it, but the only drawback is that you can’t store your wine for as long – not that it’s a problem. Do note that some bottles originating from Europe and Canada might have small amounts of additional sulfites. Regulations there mention that as long as the sulfites don’t exceed 100 parts per million (ppm) and 150ppm for red and white wines respectively.
Another important thing to pay attention to is the labels on organic wines. Some wines may be made with organic grapes, but that doesn’t necessarily make them organic wines. Should the winemaker decide to add any additives into it, the label usually reads as “made from organic grapes” instead. Wines with the organic label mean that it has been certified by a licensed third-party organisation. The entire process from the growing to the processing has been done according to regulated standards.
Biodynamic wines are similar to organic wines, except they’ve gone several steps further to create a whole fertile ecosystem around the vineyard. Essentially, biodynamic wines begin from the soil the grapes grow in. Like organic wines, no synthetic intervention is used to create the perfect yield for grapes. The vineyard itself is a biodynamic farm – self-sustainable way of interacting with the flora and fauna ecosystem at large. Everything is determined from a strict calendar, which includes planting and harvesting. This special calendar takes into account lunar cycles as well as the position of the sun and planets, so everything has gone through meticulous care and attention to detail.
Biodynamic wines are also regulated by the Demeter Association, so rest assured that biodynamic wines are as clean as it gets.