Saturday, September 3, 2011

“Natural Wine” Usually A Marketing Twist For Yuck

If you read my articles, and you think that I talk a little too simple then I have the perfect blog for you. It is called A little above my caliber, this blog focuses on writers who have a much more intellectual slant on wines, winemaking and the wine business.

The reason I bring this blog up is because I read it. That’s where I got the idea for this week’s column. Don’t worry, I didn’t plagiarize. I just read something that makes me crazy and now I must vent.

A recent and highly intellectual book called “Authentic Wine, Toward Natural and Sustainable Winemaking” was recently published by the authors Jamie Goode and Sam Harrop. It discusses in detail the processes, opinions, and attitudes surrounding what we call “Natural, Authentic, and Naked” wines.

Tom Mansell, the reviewer for gives a pretty darn good set of cliff notes to the book. So good, thank God, that I don’t have to read the book myself in order to possess my own opinion on the whole Natural wines concept.

First, I need to stop and explain the “Natural” concept. This idea started a number of years ago. Pretty much, to help those who suffered from sulfite allergies. As time has gone, there have been a number of people I’ll call “hippies” who explain the oxidation and bacteria in their wines as being a “Natural” product.

There is a winery on Red Mountain, who must not be named, that has pronounced their wine as being the only real “Authentic” wine in the region. I’m probably being more honest here than I should in this article, but if that is what “Authentic” tastes like than give me fake. I’d rather eat a Twinkie than a four month old moldy piece of bread any day.

I look at Natural wines kind of the same way that I do medicine. There are times when going to a Naturopathic Physician makes perfect sense. One of my good friends, Dr. Stephen Smith in Richland, is a fantastic physician who turned his attention to natural remedies to augment his medical practice many years ago.

When I asked Stephen recently about a few different diagnoses, wondering if there was a natural method for curing them, his answer was very honest and varied. In some cases he did have some great natural remedies. In others he said it was important that the person follow modern medical practices.

The same holds true for wine. Wine is a living thing. If you drink a sick wine, you will definitely taste it, and might even get sick yourself if you aren’t careful. If you drink a wine that is full of bad bacteria you will not like the taste and hopefully stop. If you drink a wine that is fully loaded with sulfites to overcome a sickness in the wine you will likely taste and feel the effects of that as well.

My opinion is that you should stay on the center line when it comes to this whole debate. Don’t drink wines that are too repaired by chemicals. And, don’t drink wines that are “Natural” if they taste bad. Simply, if it tastes good, drink it. If it doesn’t, spit it out and eat a cracker.