Natural and organic are two words that are becoming common in the wine industry. Nowadays, people have become more and more conscious of what they are putting in their bodies. Many find themselves going for a bottle of organic or Natural Wine but hesitate, not sure which one to take. The two can be confusing to new wine lovers and long time wine enthusiasts.
If you are wondering which is better, this guide is for you. We tackle the debate of organic vs Natural Wine to give you all the details you need to make an informed choice.
What is Organic Wine?
Organic Wine is wine farmed with organically grown grapes. There is no universal standard for organic farming, although guidelines exist. The definition of organic wine largely depends on the country of origin.
A common factor in growing organic grapes is the absence of artificial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides throughout the growing period. Any input used on the farm should be organically sourced.
Another identifying mark of organic wine is the lack of sulfite additives. However, all wine contains a small percentage from the fermentation process. Winemakers add sulfites to wine to maintain a uniform flavor and preserve freshness.
Organic products must be certified by the certifying bodies in the country they were made. The USDA certifies organic wine with a sulfite content of 10 ppm (parts per million). Other countries' regulations may differ, but they all agree that grapes must follow organic principles during growing.
You can identify a bottle of organic wine by the presence of a certification indicator. Or the label may say "made with organic grapes" or something close to that.
Organic wine should not be confused with biodynamic wine, although it's not uncommon to find the two sharing the same section in a wine store. Production of biodynamic wine takes organic wine a step further and incorporates soil care. For a wine to be certified biodynamic, the grapes must be grown in a biodiverse vineyard. Like organic wine, it is regulated, and the Demeter certification is available.
What is Natural Wine?
Natural Wine is wine that is farmed organically (at minimum) and made (or rather transformed) without adding or removing anything in the cellar. No additives or processing aids are used, and 'intervention' in the naturally occurring fermentation process is kept to a minimum. As such neither fining nor (tight) filtration are used. The result is a living wine – full of naturally occurring microbiology. (Source)
Natural Wine is made from organically or biodynamically grown grapes. What differentiates Natural Wine from organic wine is the winemaking process. Natural Wine is referred to as “low intervention” because winemakers do not interfere with the process. They allow fermentation to take place using only the naturally occurring yeast on the grape skin.
It is labor intensive as the grapes are picked and crushed by hand. Some growers do not even regulate the temperature. No chemicals, organic or not, are added to the wine. Organic wine can undergo harsh sterile filtration, but Natural Wine does not.
The wine can be fizzy due to naturally occurring gas during the fermentation process. But swirling it takes care of that. Conventional wine does not have this problem as the makers get rid of the gas.
As with most things natural, it is unregulated and, therefore, no certification on the bottle. But how can you determine if the wine you are about to take is truly natural? You can ask the sommelier if you are in a restaurant or an attendant at the store, but don't be surprised if most can't tell the difference between natural, biodynamic, and organic wine.
It’s important to find a company that uses strict certification standards and is transparent about what they consider natural. For instance, at Dry Farm Wines we only work with farmers who do not use irrigation. This is called dry farming, and it produces healthier vines and saves millions of gallons of water per year.
Also, the soil quality, native yeast, and the longer fermentation process result in a more funky or cidery taste. Since the flavor depends on several varying factors, it can be unpredictable and may differ with the region.
Organic vs Natural Wine
Differences Between Organic and Natural Wine
Organic and Natural Wine are not synonymous, so let’s evaluate what makes organic and Natural Wine different.
- Processing. Organic wine uses conventional processing methods, while Natural Wine depends on natural fermentation. Minimal intervention is employed with Natural Wine.
- Regulation. Organic wines are regulated, and certification indicators can be found on the label of the wine bottle, while Natural Wines are not regulated.
- Grapes. Natural Wines are made from organic grapes, and can sometimes be made from biodynamic grapes. . Organic wine can only come from organically farmed grapes.
- Technology. Natural Wine is made using low-tech, labor-intensive methods. The grapes are hand-picked and crushed by hand. In making organic wine, high-tech picking and crushing machines are deployed.
- Additives. Natural Wines are made without adding any chemicals, whereas organic wines can include additives as long as they are organic certified.
Similarities Between Organic and Natural Wine
We’re now clear on the differences, so what makes organic and Natural Wine similar. In truth, there isn’t very significant overlap between organic and Natural Wine aside from them both being labeled wine.
- Sulfites. In making both types of wines, sulfites are not added. The only sulfites present are naturally occuring.
- Additive Restrictions. Any substances used during the making of organic wine must be organically sourced. Only permitted additives are used.
In the debate of organic vs Natural Wine, it all bottles down to personal preference. While one is clear and crisp, the other can be unpredictable. For wine lovers everywhere, the choice is yours. Winemakers and sellers are proud of their wine and ready to share all the information with anyone who will ask. So, when in doubt, seek answers.
Dry Farm Wines an Organic and Natural Wine Membership
At Dry Farm Wines we care about what we put in our bodies. That's why we founded Dry Farm Wines - a fresh approach to wine with old practices in mind. Switch to organic wines that are naturally sugar free and lower in alcohol (less than 12.5% ABV).
Many other wines position themselves as natural, but less than 0.01% of wines meet our strict criteria. We vet every grower, taste every wine, and ensure every wine is lab-tested.
We take the guesswork out of choosing wine by conveniently curating pure, small-quantity wines and delivering them to your doorstep on a schedule that's right for you.
Switch to Pure, Natural Wine by signing up for a Dry Farm Wines Membership