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Real Wine - What are the arguments?

Posted on 25th February 2013 by ewwwebdev There have been 0 comments


In our blog last week, we attempted to provide a helpful working definition of Real Wines in the absence of an official one. This week we summarise arguments for and against Real Wines, so you can make up your own mind.

Real Wines - The Positives

There are several reasons why you as a consumer or restaurateur might choose to try Real or Natural wines.

  • Sustainability - Real wines come from the artisan tradition of wine making. Organically produced and hand-harvested, they will naturally be from smaller estates where sustainability and the overall health of the land, including biodiversity, will be a priority. Less machinery and fewer chemicals must be a good thing!
  • Taste - unmasked by treatments and additives, these wines are less standardized and therefore more flavoursome. They may be more divisive as they haven't been made with preconceived notions of commercial taste in mind. You might love it or you might hate it, but at least you'll have an opinion!
  • Health - sulphur dioxide causes allergic reactions in some people and high levels are unhealthy (wine is not the only product with high levels of sulphur dioxide). It is also said to add to the affects of a hangover.

And The Negatives?

  • Critics admonish a lack of stabilizing agents, which makes them prone to spoilage.  Even Real Wine enthusiast Doug Wregg admitted that half the wines he tasted during the early days of the natural wine movement in the 80s were “undrinkable” (Drinks Business 18th February, 2013). However these risks are gradually being reduced as standards improve and modern winemakers understand the need for extremely high levels of hygiene and the benefits of low doses of sulphur at bottling.
  • Variation - from bottle to bottle and vintage to vintage. Real wines aren't made in factories, so there will be more variation. They are certainly far more reflective of vintage conditions. So this is a just criticism, but many would also see it as a positive.
  • Critics of 'real' or 'natural' wines argue that there is no definition, which is misleading for the public. They have a point here - at the moment the term can be applied across a broad swathe of wines which differ vastly, so its hard to know what to expect. They can be brilliant expressions of terroir with great clarity, or cloudy and smelly; hardly an inviting prospect.

What Real Wine Is To Us

All of the real or natural wines in our list are there because we think they are great wines, not just because they can be labelled as 'real'. Chosen on their own merits, they have great clarity of fruit, pleasant and distinct 'natural' textures and clean finishes. Some may be a little cloudier than other wines, and some have natural deposits which you wouldn't find in commercial products, but often you wouldn't notice any other differences apart from delicious flavours unmediated by chemicals or human intervention. The more funky stuff out there we think is great, but we always ask ourselves if it lives up to the criteria of simple enjoyment and pleasure which wine should give. If it requires a specific dish of previously unheard of ingredients to partner it, or a connoisseur of real wine to intellectualize whilst you're drinking it, then it isn't for us. To view our selection of real wines click here.

Real Wine Month is in March, look out for special offers.


This post was posted in Uncategorized, Tastings and other Events, News

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