Have you ever noticed that wine and beer do not have ingredients or nutrition facts panels? Wine is one of the few food industries not currently required to reveal ingredients. As we become increasingly aware of what we eat, it seems odd that we are not asking the same questions of what we drink. Isn’t wine just grapes and yeast? Historically, wine was made only from grapes, as they contain all the sugars, tannins and acids necessary to create a good wine, and wild yeasts took care of fermentation. There was no manipulation or interventions in the wine-making because those ingredients and tools (such as filters) had not been invented. Today, we call wines made in this way “natural wines.” Natural wines are made from organically-grown or biodynamically grown fruit without any chemicals or additives such as yeast, nutrients, fining agents or adjustments for acidity. While the addition of sulfur (as a preservative) is allowable in minute quantities at bottling, many natural wines do not even add sulfur.
Not surprisingly, the few wineries that choose to make natural wines are small, independent artisans, with a philosophy of natural know-how in the field and in the winery. On the one hand, technology and science allow us to control winemaking, and eliminate risk, but the result is that very little is left to nature.
While organically and biodynamically grown wines demonstrate respect for the earth and biodiversity, natural wines are still the most strict about what is and isn’t permitted.
There are many different ways to make wine. No one way is right or wrong. Today, over 150 additives are allowed in wine (non-organic), not to mention the pesticides and herbicides that may have been used on the fruit. But not all wines that are not labeled organic are full of chemicals and GMO’s; the producer may simply have chosen not to certify. Hence, it is valuable to know your winemaker, ask questions, and support the producers that have good intentions and philosophies!
At Wild Wines, we make organic, GMO-free, minimally interventionist, vegan fruit, berry and flower wines. We do use yeast and yeast nutrients, but we do not add sulfites or other additives for fining, clarification or stabilization. High-quality, organic fruit provides an ample supply of naturally-occurring phytochemicals (natural plant compounds) that provide rich and complex flavor components. Natural plant chemicals also act as natural preservatives and are beneficial to our health. New research shows that organic fruits and berries have up to 58% higher natural antioxidants than non-organic.
Organic Wine: Under 10 ppm naturally occurring sulfite
Biodynamic Wine: 100 ppm added sulfite
“Made with Organic Grapes” wine: 150 ppm added sulfite
All wine: 350 ppm added sulfite