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WWBG: Natural Wines


Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). It is written by Sarah Garratt, a wine and food pairing blogger. Follow her blog  or on Instagram @grapepairings.

Looking through a wine aisle or a wine list, you may have spotted the words “natural wine” on a bottle or description. Natural wines are becoming more and more prevalent in wine stores and restaurants, and it is important to know what “natural” really means in the wine world.

What is Natural Wine?

Natural wines are as pure, raw and bare bones as grapes and wine can be. They are unfiltered and made from all local grapes and yeasts. The grapes are typically grown by small and independent producers, and everything is done organically and sustainably.

During the winemaking process, nothing is added or taken away. This means no additives or preservatives. However, this also means that they can spoil quicker, as there is nothing to help them to age. Being unfiltered, many natural wines have a cloudy tint to them (coming from the yeasts) and can taste quite unique!

Is Natural Wine Healthier?

Not necessarily.

True, there are no added sulfites in natural wine. However, there is still no proven evidence that sulfites cause headaches, so that is not exactly a bad thing.

True also, natural wines are unfiltered and have no additives. However, this means that whatever bacteria or imperfections that were grown on the grapes of the natural wine have also been unfiltered and are in the final product.

It is also good to know that not all additives are bad for you! There are usually more harmful additives in the processed foods we eat than in the wine we drink! While not necessarily healthier than any other bottle of wine, natural wines are definitely a great way to try something new.

Three Wines to Try

Dominion Wine & Beer has some natural wines for you to try, three of which are featured today! All of them are unique, from smaller producers, and excellent to pair with food.

Let’s start with an Italian white wine, 2016 Montenidoli Vernaccia Di San Gimignano ($20). This Vernaccia has so many flavors going on! Each whiff of the wine brought out a different note. Smells and tastes of lemon, peach, camomile, yellow apple and freshly baked bread are all present in this white wine.

It is definitely a conversation starter! Being very full bodied for a white wine, oil or mayonnaise based salads would be excellent. Think tuna, chicken, bean, pasta or potato salads.

The 2017 Biha Andreas Vineyard Gewürztraminer ($20) is an orange wine from Oregon.

Don’t be fooled! There is no food coloring in this wine! While white wine is made from grapes without the skins on during fermentation, orange wine is made with white wine grapes and fermented in the skins. This gives the wine that orange color.

This gewürztraminer is bright orange, and full of honeysuckle and orange blossom notes. It has a long and acidic finish that would make it delicious with curry, chutney and hummus.

Not all natural wines are white. This 2015 Sono Montenidoli Il Garrulo Chianti Colli Senesi ($20) from Italy (same producer as the Vernaccia mentioned above) is a red wine with a gorgeous, garnet color.

Due to its medium tannins, this Chianti was made for pairing with tomato-based sauces, such as spaghetti with meatballs, pasta bolognese or lasagna.

Similar to the Vernaccia, the tasting profile is endless and has lots to offer. Flavors of violet, tobacco, spice, vanilla, cherry and stewed strawberries are all evenly balanced within the wine.

Do you like natural wines? Have you ever tried them? Curious to learn more? Stop by the shop and pick some up!

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