Is There a Difference Between Organic and Natural Wine?

organic and natural wine

The growing debate is about chemicals added to wine production, but is it valid?

In another article, we covered the benefits of organic wines and the different types of organic wine.

However there is another type of wine production which is receiving wide attention and generating increasing consumer demand – that of natural wine.

So what is the difference between organic and natural wine?

Put simply, and perhaps too simply, organic wine is produced from grapes which have been organically grown, in some form at least.

Natural wine is wine produced with no (or at least minimal) use of chemicals or other technology which may be counter to acquiring a completely natural product.

In an extreme case, organic wine could be made non-naturally (that is, using organic grapes but applying chemicals once the grapes have been picked) and conversely, non-organic grapes which may have had fertilizers added during the growing process could be turned into wine, naturally.

Interesting, to say the least.

Difference Between Organic and Natural Wine?

Natural wine, which strives to use only one of 200 additives approved by the Federal Drug Administration—i.e., grapes—is increasingly popular. But wine writers everywhere see problems with it. They argue that without sulfur the wines will spoil. Others say that the wines are “homogeneously cidery and coarse” and compare them to bad vinegar. Even the esteemed critic Robert M. Parker Jr. called natural wine “one of the major scams being foisted on wine consumers.” With blog headlines such as “Natural Wine: The Ugly Underbelly,” the backlash has turned particularly harsh. So I pose the question: are we talking wine or war? Having written two books on the topic, and finding myself drinking this stuff at least 95 percent of the time, I feel protective.

 For the uninitiated, natural wines have nothing added or taken away, except maybe a bit of sulfur. Any new wine list worth its reputation will have a hefty selection of natural wines. The reason I love them is the same reason I love heirloom tomatoes, or white truffles, or bitter chocolate—they have exceptional flavor, complexity, and surprise. To borrow a theater analogy, they break the fourth wall. They cause a reaction. Sometimes, maybe, too much of one. Read the full article on natural wine here.

The concern I have about this debate concerning the difference between organic and natural wine, and the relative merits of each, is that it is detracting from the focus which the wine lover has on enjoying the product.

Sure, there may be minor taste fluctuations detectable by the connoisseur who just happens to be born with a palate able to detect a micro gram of sulfur, but who really cares?

chemicals in wine production

Are chemicals in wine production a problem?

Wine products are manufactured globally to strict regulations as to the chemical additives allowed, just like all food products. Anything which is not safe for human consumption is simply not permitted.

Beyond that, it becomes a matter of personal taste and appreciation and why one party or another should be vehemently arguing a position defies reason.

Let’s just sit down with a glass of wine of choice (organic, natural or whatever) and get on with life. It is too short as it is.

Do you have any views on organic and natural wines? Leave your comments below, but please don’t get angry!


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One Response to “Is There a Difference Between Organic and Natural Wine?”

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  1. Trisha Rogers says:

    Interesting article and a topic that is very important to me. I have a strong preference for food and wine grown organically and sustainably, and I also want to ensure that the wine itself is produced without chemicals. Your article mentions that natural wines can use any or all of the 200 chemicals approved by the FDA, I would like to see winemakers avoid these additives and produce a much heatlhier product.

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