I love a good glass of wine. I recently met a sommelier and in one night we drank over 20 glasses each. The next day I was up early and feeling great.
I attribute that to the following elements:
a) I had loads of food
b) I had loads of water
c) we drank natural wines
Natural wines are either sulphite free or extremely low in sulphite (any wine bottle will tell on the label if it has sulphites or not). Because natural wines are made free from additives they tend to be from smaller producers. Their taste can be a bit different at first but I find good natural wines are amazingly fresh. And even if you don’t know anything about wine chances are that a natural wine won’t ever taste like vinegar (like cheap wines do).
Natual wines are not exactly new: when people first started making wine they didn’t deliver thousands of bottles all over the world. And they didn’t have additives. There is a growing community of natural winemakers, but pioneers such as Jules Chauvet and Rudpol Steiner really advocated for this process and the impact it had not only on taste but also on agriculture.
Isabelle Legeron quotes Jean-Pierre Amoreau from Château Le Puy in Côtes de Francs – organic for 400 years) on the the natural wine-making process:
‘Vines grown for the long term on a soil with a healthy and diverse microbiology will have a more balanced life and will be able, when necessary, to rely on their own immune system to fight off disease’
Some claim that the lack of additives means less the side effects (aka headaches). Which I personally tend to agree. Sulphur dioxide is also linked to allergic reactions (ME!) and other health problems:
‘The incidence of sulphite sensitivity in the general population is thought to be less than 2%, but this rises to between 5 and 13% in asthmatics’. (Allergyuk.org, 2016)
Another thing I learned on contemporary wine making is a little something called skin contact. And that, my friends, is the key to the BEST WHITE/ORANGE WINES IN THE WORLD. I’ll explain: all red wines are made with skin contact (basically, keeping the grape’s skin) and white wines are, usually, not.
‘Red wines do not need any added sulphur dioxide because they naturally contain anti-oxidants, acquired from their skins and stems during fermentation. Conventional winemakers add some anyway. White wines and rosés do not contain natural anti-oxidants because they are not left in contact with their skins after crushing’. (morethanorganic.com, 2016)
BUT, some wine makers are bending the rules and keeping the skins during the fermentation for white wines. It can go wrong. But, if it’s right, it’s mineral, fresh and delicious.
If you are in London, I recommend visiting Noble Liquor – they have a great selection and promote a series of tasting to initiate the beginners (like me) on the pleasures of good and more natural wine.
Some of my favourite skin-contact wines are so-called orange wines, such as:
- Zidarich, Vitovska 2010, Friuli, Italy
- Peter Jakob Kuhn, St Nikolaus Riesling Trocken 2011, Rheingau, Germany
- Tom Shobbrook, Didi Giallo 2012, South Australia, Australia
If you like wine, give it a try. You can be healthy, sociable and less prone to allergies. You will also be supporting more local and smaller producers, which is an extra bonus! And if you have any more wine suggestions, let me know.
Allergyuk.org. (2016). Sulphites and Airway Symptoms – Allergy UK. [online] Available at: https://www.allergyuk.org/sulphites-and-airway-symptoms/sulphites-and-airway-symptoms [Accessed 22 Oct. 2016].
morethanorganic.com. (2016). Sulphites in wine – Natural wine. [online] Available at: http://www.morethanorganic.com/sulphur-in-the-bottle [Accessed 22 Oct. 2016].
Wineanorak.com. (2016). Biodynamic wine: the wine anorak’s guide. [online] Available at: http://www.wineanorak.com/biodynamic2.htm [Accessed 22 Oct. 2016].
Woolf, S. (2015). Orange wines: it’s time to get in touch – Decanter. [online] Decanter. Available at: http://www.decanter.com/features/orange-wines-it-s-time-to-get-in-touch-245524/ [Accessed 22 Oct. 2016].