Life’s too short for bad plonk: 8 expert tips for choosing natural wine

Eating & Drinking
5 minute guide

Is it just us, or do you pick wine by the label? We know that sometimes organic and biodynamic wine can feel like a bit of a gamble, so we’ve sought some expert help.

Master of Wine and RAW WINE Fair founder, Isabelle Legeron, is a global expert in raw, organic and natural wine. So who better to advise us on how to choose a decent organic or natural bottle?

Georgina Wilson-Powell 28 February 2018

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Embrace the adventure

Be open-minded as you may discover flavours in natural wines you have never encountered before. This is all part of the beauty of these wines.

Want to know more about why you should be drinking natural wines? Click here.

Don’t go for style over substance

While funky labels are a good indicator of natural-ness (many natural wine producers are pretty anti-establishment), don’t forget that many of the most traditional, classic producers are natural too.

Take Château le Puy, an estate in Bordeaux, for example. They have been organic for some 400 years and boast a host of completely natural wines. Best of all their wines are delicious.

Everything you need to know about natural and organic wine

Head to the RAW WINE fair in London in March to taste over 700 natural and organic wines

Tom Moggach

Shop independent

Shop in small, independent wine shops as they are the most likely to a) stock natural wines and b) know a lot about the wines they stock so they are best suited to give advice. Vintage Roots is a great example of a friendly, online organic and natural wine store.

Go for quality over quantity

Natural wines tend to be a little bit more expensive (although this is not necessarily the case) so we tend to drink a little less but better.

"Be open-minded as you may discover flavours in natural wines you have never encountered before"

Learn to love the cloud

Don’t let a small haze put you off, these wines are not fined or filtered and sometimes they can look a bit cloudy but think of it as wholesome wine.

(Want to know more about how natural wine is different and why this is important? Click here).

This also goes for a little sediment that can be found in bottles. In fact, you might even occasionally come across tartrate crystals that have precipitated and frankly they are delicious. They taste a bit like sherbert!

Taste heritage grapes

One of the most exciting things about natural producers is that they work really hard to preserve the rich viticultural heritage of indigenous grape varieties rather than plant standard international varieties (like Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon) that the large market-driven powerhouses prefer to bet their bucks on.

This means that low-intervention organic, biodynamic and natural wines tend to offer more diversity of taste profiles and a unique chance to taste wines made from obscure grapes.

Check out Domaine Ligas’ Kydonitsa Barrique 2015, for example, which is made from a very rare (almost extinct) white grape variety which Jason Ligas, (a charming, dynamic twenty-something) has played a seminal role in reviving.

Or look out for the wild wines by Giorgi Natenadze who harvests most of his grapes from forest vines in the Caucasus, or from vines growing amongst the ruins of abandoned villages. Aged between 100 and 400 years old, these plants are more grape trees than vines, and of the 40 different varieties Giorgi has collected, nearly half have yet to be identified and/or named! 

Raw Wine New York 6

Natural and biodynamic wines are made with as little preservatives as possible

Explore other fruits

Don’t get hung up on the grape alone. With the advent of a greater appreciation of proper, live fermentations, many grower-makers have begun to experiment with other fruit (apple, pear, plums, etc) and this year we’ve even introduced a Cider Corner to RAW WINE London featuring fine drinks from the UK, France, Poland and Sweden.

Make up your own mind

Don’t worry about other people’s opinion about whether or not natural wine is worth it - make up your mind for yourself. With over 700 low-intervention organic, biodynamic and natural wines to taste at RAW WINE London - all free with your ticket - you’ll be a fully-fledged expert yourself by the end of the day!

The RAW WINE Fair happens on 11-12 March. Tickets are £45 a day and this includes a tasting glass, brochure and samples of wines from 150 specially selected growers.

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