Over recent years, there has been an increase of natural, organic and biodynamic wines onto the market. But if you’re not sure quite what these labels mean, you’re not alone. They can be difficult to understand at first glance, so here’s a breakdown of these new types of wine.
While enjoying a glass of wine is a simple pleasure for many people, the labeling and categorisation of the much-loved beverage is complex. And when you’re searching for the perfect wine, working out which country, region and quality to choose can be overwhelming.
Natural, organic and biodynamic wine categories
Wine labeling also varies from brand to brand. For example, you could find an Australian chardonnay with both the country and the grape clearly marked on the label. However, if you pick up a typical Chablis, the label generally won’t tell you that it’s also made with chardonnay grapes.
This is partly what makes wine such a fascinating industry. It’s also why there are so many collectors and wine aficionados who take pleasure in learning all about the endless varieties on offer. It’s also important to many people to understand exactly what is in the wine they’re drinking, particularly in these health-conscious times.
All of which has set the stage for a growth of natural and organic wines. Natural wine can be found everywhere now, with varieties easily available from wine merchants, in supermarkets and in bars. Others focus on many different types of artisanal wines, including biodynamic and organic. But what does biodynamic wine mean? And how does it differ from organic?
What is organic wine?
This relatively new category of wine is among the simplest, particularly as consumers are familiar with organic food. Just as organic food is grown and cultivated with no herbicides, fungicides or artificial pesticides, organic wine is too. Vineyards use natural products to fight disease and encourage their vines to grow. The rules for organic wine also mean that certain additives cannot be used to make the wine. Organic wine is popular with people looking for a certain level of quality and who take sustainability seriously.
What is biodynamic wine?
Biodynamic wine follows a specific ideology that states for a vineyard to be the best it can be, it must be harmonious and balanced. Organic vineyards aren’t enough to fulfill the specificity of biodynamic wine.
Winemakers use crop rotation, for example. By resting and alternating crops, the soil is given the chance to replenish its nutrients. They also spray the soil with natural pesticides and substances, including manure, minerals and various flowers. Some prune and maintain the vineyard according to the phases of the moon, and others take it even further by playing music to their plants.
Whether the more spiritual aspects of biodynamic wine truly work, the makers are producing popular wines. After all, the ancient Romans and Greeks also grew and harvested their crops in the same way, so there must be something in it.
What is natural wine?
This is a trickier category to quantify. With organic and biodynamic wines, there are clear rules to follow and accreditations to earn. However, natural wine has no specific body overseeing it. This means that there are no widely accepted rules as to what constitutes a natural wine.
However, the basic idea is that the grape’s growing process is interrupted as little as possible. As well as avoiding all chemicals, growers of natural wine grapes also don’t use filtration. This process removes all of the particles that result in a cloudy wine. In addition, they only use naturally occurring yeasts and add a tiny amount of sulphur. With no enzymes or sugar added, natural wines follow a very different path of production that regular wines.