Many of us are constantly searching for healthier options for our eating and drinking lifestyles. Naked, or natural wine, is no longer a novelty. This wine takes a seat at the table alongside conventional wines.
So, is drinking wine “naked” better? What exactly is wine? In its basic definition wine is an alcoholic beverage made from fresh grape juice which is filled with natural grape sugars. By the action of the yeast (either naturally occurring or added) eating those natural sugars, the juice is fermented into alcohol. Winemakers can play with different yeasts and can create styles of wines by using different fermentation vessels such as clay, wooden barrels or steel. Natural or naked wine grapes are farmed organically and/or biodynamically. In the winery, the grapes are made into wine without adding anything. No additives are used and winemaker “intervention” in the naturally occurring fermentation process is minimal. If no fining or filtration occurs (which can be achieved with egg whites) the wine is now also vegan.
Let’s deconstruct the naked, or natural, wine terms.
Wineries that produce certified organic wines cannot avail themselves of herbicides, pesticides or synthetics in fertilizers. While sulfites are a naturally occurring process of winemaking, this wine may contain a maximum 100ppm of added sulfites in wine. The definition of organic wine varies around the world but means that a reputable, third-party agency has certified that the grapes for the production of the wine are 100% organically grown.
The Waldorf Schools were started by Rudolph Steiner. He is also the Father of the Biodynamic farming philosophy. He taught that plant growth was influenced by an energy flow of energy radiating from the Moon, stars and planets. According to Steiner, the position of the moon and the stars within certain constellations influences the growth of leaves, roots, flowers, and fruit. Biodynamic farmers plant their crops accordingly. They employ various methods for nourishing the soil, as do organic grape growers. However, biodynamic growers put a greater emphasis on the vines and since they believe that plants respond to all the various forces of nature, they also time their activities in accordance with the cycles of the moon, planets and stars.
Organic and Conventional winemaking do have their differences and similarities. Differences are often found in the yeasts used. Conventional wine can use GMO yeasts which can speed up the winemaking process and add to flavor and the bouquet. Both winemaking disciplines require preservatives and most often are using environmentally friendly pesticides that remove only harmful pests while preserving good ones. During fermentation, sulphur dioxide is naturally produced by yeast which protects wine from mold, microbe contamination and other spoilers.
No matter the method, wine is a living thing. Its place in our lives is to enhance food flavors, the time of day and the conversation. Pairing the right wine with your meal can heighten your experience and create an indelible memory of that moment. You will always remember who you were with, the food you ate and your conversation.
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Stacie Hunt, Certified Silver Pin Sommelier