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Is 'Natural' Wine Better?


 The meaning of the newest idiom in winemaking

Additive-free, minimally processed, no, we're not talking about dinner. Natural is the newest watchword in wine, and just as in food, it's all the rage with the health-conscious set. Mega-batched "industrial" wines can contain all kinds of mystery ingredients (everything from beet sugar to charcoal and the scarily named additive "Mega Purple"), and since wine is not regulated by the FDA, winemakers aren't required to list them. To fight back against Frankenstein wines, small winemakers have adopted the term to describe their oenological labors of love.

Along with eschewing additives, natural wines are small-batch, made using traditional equipment and fermented using the wild yeasts that occur naturally in the winery, contributing to the terroir of the finished product. While it's not yet an official designation like "organic," your local wine store will be able to point you to the natural wines, or you can look on the label for the name of an all-natural importer like Jenny and Francois Selections. Aside from being on-trend, they're also wildly delicious, with a light funkiness that echoes that of a farmhouse ale. We'll drink to that.

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