The 411: What is Natural Wine?

You might have recently seen or heard the phrase natural wine, whether it be on a sign at your local grocery store, a social media post or one of your uber health-conscious friends’ raving about its benefits. Here at Artevino, we wanted to take the time to chat with our loyal club members and new interested wine lovers about this seemingly complicated topic. So that next time you pop open a bottle of Artevino, you know exactly what you are putting into your body.

Little to No Additives

What you might not know is that most wines you will consume or have consumed up until this point in your life have most likely been chalk full of additives. That seems to be because natural wines don’t necessarily dominate the shelves of any mainstream supermarket or corner store. Oh, and you know that red wine that turns your whole mouth purple? That comes from an additive too. These additives can mimic a ‘big mouth feel’ or give the wine a deeper color. The bad news is that sometimes an additive, or a compilation of multiple additives, can make us feel sick (Wicks₃). California Natural WineYou’ve all heard the stories, or maybe it’s you yourself that’s just given up on wine because it’s not worth the headache the next day.

But here’s what you really need to know: there are pros and cons to both. These additives can give wine a shelf life or, for example, can give value to a bottle that sits in a wine collector’s cellar for years to come, aging it to liquid perfection. They can also help filter the wine so that there is less sediment and better clarity to the wine itself.

The important thing to remember is to think of your wine as a living thing, much like the graceful vines you zoom past on the way to your favorite tasting room. There are many techniques to harness the aromas, tastes and medicinal properties of these grapes (Bankston₁). While there is no ‘wrong’ way to make wine; it’s up to you where your priorities and preferences lie when it comes to the health risks and factors of choosing a wine label that’s right for you.

Artevino Qualifies as a Natural Wine & Here’s Why…

Of all the seventy or so  government-allowed additives in wine, Artevino uses just one. You might be asking yourself, how can we still be considered a natural wine? I thought natural wine meant zero additives?

Both are valid questions. Artevino is considered a natural wine because we use the least amount of sulfite we can in order to give our wine a collector’s grade bottle. Sulfur is a natural element that occurs in food, sulfite is the isolated, powdered form of it. To give you more of an idea,  we add 28 to 32 ppm (parts per million) at bottling. This approximately equates to a dissolved 0.03 grams per bottle. Translation: there is a trace amount of sulfite per bottle of Artevino natural wine.

Sulfites in Wine

(See photo comparison below for a visual scale of actual added proportion)

Sulfur is a natural compound that organically occurs in vineyards and in many foods such as maple syrup, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, arugula, kale, radishes, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, garlic, chives, leeks, scallions, shallots, asparagus, chickpeas, oats, walnuts, a handful of soy products and well… the list goes on! In fact, sulfur is the third most ample element in the human body. While it is true some people have stronger reactions to sulfur or sulfite than others, sulfur is not an enemy to all. On the contrary, sulfur’s compound includes two essential amino acids that aid the body in digestion, inflammation and many other functions. (Brennan₂)

In layman’s terms, the minimal amount of sulfite used simply helps our wine fend off bacteria or fungi that can disrupt its shelf life, with little to no side effect overall. Another important thing to realize is wine labels are not required nor regulated by law to tell you how much sulfite or additives in general are in their wine. At Maple Creek Winery, transparency about what you are consuming  is paramount to our mission of becoming not just your preferred glass of wine, but a business made up of people you know and trust.

Natural Wine Shelf Life

Other natural wines that claim to have ‘zero’ additives should be consumed promptly after purchase as they can be increasingly unstable on the shelf. This happens because of the occasionally rampant fungi or bacteria  growth in the bottle when it lacks sulfites entirely, making the wine soon undrinkable. Our qualification as a natural wine is solidified by the fact that Artevino lacks additives other than the minimal amount of sulfite needed to preserve the wine. It is equally delicious and accessible today as it would be if allowed to age over time. 

So, crack open a chilled Artevino Chardonnay by the pool this summer or sip on some Rose of Pinot Noir at a happy hour with your gals! If you don’t mix with any other brands or kinds of alcohol, conduct your own experiment. Evaluate how you feel the next day.

If you’re new to us, make the drive and stop by Maple Creek Winery for a tasting of our Artevino handcrafted award-winning natural wines and you be the judge. We may just be your new favorite natural wine label.

Cheers!

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Sources: 

  1. Bankston, Shawn. “A Closer Look At Wine Additives.” A Matter of Taste, Dry Farm Wines, 16 July 2020, www.amatteroftaste.com/wine/wine-additives
  2. Brennan, Dan. “7 Foods High in Sulfur and Why You Need It.” WebMD, WebMD, 28 Oct. 2020, www.webmd.com/diet/foods-high-in-sulfur
  3. Wicks, Lauren. “I Just Found Out Most Wine Is Full of Chemicals—Here’s What You Need to Know.” Eating Well, 2020.