Natural Wine

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

natural wine, relative rather than absolute term for wine produced by small-scale, independent growers from hand-picked grapes grown using sustainable, organic, or biodynamic viticulture—increasingly but by no means exclusively certified as such. Natural wine enthusiasts favour physical rather than chemical interventions during winemaking, and thus no additives and minimal additions of sulfur dioxide, and preferably none at all.

The contemporary natural wine movement’s amorphous, countercultural ethos is both a reaction to the over-oaked, over-extracted, over-technologically manipulated ‘blockbuster’ wines in fashion around the turn of the 20th century, and an implicit challenge to a contemporary wine industry it sees as increasingly additive-prone yet lazily content with a legislative status quo imposing less-than-rigorous labelling requirements for the several hundred potential processing aids, agents, and additives available to winemakers (see ingredient labelling). Europe’s pioneers of natural wine found it incongruous that sulfur dioxide be permitted in wine made from organically grown grapes, for example (although see organic wine).