In a world that is constantly becoming more and more conscious of the potential hazards with 21st century farming, the industry of organic wine has blossomed from fringe groups of wine enthusiasts to mainstream restaurant markets. This industry's ethos is based on the principle of interfering as little as possible to let the grapes speak for themselves. Among other benefits, this adds place and time to the wine-- something that expresses the seasons of the year it was made.
Perhaps this process is more about what isn't being done to the grape.
There are no additives like preservatives, concentrates, yeasts and enzymes that bring out color and flavor; and the grapes are organically grown with no pesticides. Leaving these steps out brings out the natural elements within the grape itself, which are primarily due to the environment of that year. This method gives a unique personality to each year, and it's a much more sustainable and environmentally friendly practice of growing and preparing grapes.
Championed by wine enthusiasts and restaurateurs like Nick Tilly, organic wine seemingly has a touch of magic to it. “It's being able to go back to traditional methods to make something that's really positive for the environment and the earth and be able to express a time and place,” he explains in an article on Tasting Table. There are seemingly endless possibilities with the varieties in flavor. There is so much to choose from and experiment with while still retaining some ambiance from mother nature. These guys are believers in their craft, which adds an extra level of TLC to the whole process and is a great substitute for pesticide.
Though there are a lot of terms floating around for varying degrees of organic, the term “natural” is a good blanket term for all minimally processed wines. The term “biodynamic” refers to the farming practices that are holistic and sustainable. Some companies add sulfates to their naturally processed wine before bottling, others are completely certified organic. The best way to find which is which is to get to know wine makers before you explore. It's important to know a little about what you are tasting to get the most out of the experience.
First timers, however, shouldn't necessarily go for the funkier or exotic flavors. There are many natural wines that are approachable to the every-once-in-a-while wine drinker, so it's best to start with these varieties before venturing further into the fringe. There is much to explore, so give your taste buds some time to get there with you. The whole point of the movement is trusting your gut and going wherever your preferences take you.
Writer Bio: Jared Rigsby is a writer and graphic designer with a BA in Writing/Literature from Middle Tennessee State University. A longtime freelancer, he is published monthly through Dish Magazine (dishmag.com) and develops logos and websites through Neochromatic.com.