Years ago, when natural wine was still a niche trend, skeptics dismissed it as nothing more than a passing fad—a marketing scheme for rebellious vignerons or people from all walks of life seeking an escape from their corporate routines, trying to infuse a touch of cool by becoming winemakers themselves. However, natural wines have gone beyond their niche origins, virtually spreading to every corner of the world. They've developed a cult following among urban young adults and have even made their way to the wine lists of prestigious Michelin-starred restaurants.

Natural wine is no longer on the outskirts of the wine world, it has firmly established itself as an important category. With time, associations and wine professionals have formed mutual understandings of this unregulated area. Nonetheless, despite the efforts made in demystifying natural wine, there exists some common misconceptions about natural wine. In this article, we aim to dispel these myths and shed light on the realities and give you a better understanding of the world of natural wine.

Natural wine is also being served in trendy wine bars

(Photo: Logan Weaver,

Myth 1: Natural Wines are Funky

Reality: Many people equate "funky" with natural wine. While it is true that some natural wines can have unusual and eccentric flavors, not all of them do. In the context of natural wine, the term "funky" typically refers to the presence of unusual and eccentric aromas and flavors, such as the nail polish smell caused by volatile acidity or the meaty, gamey, "horse blanket" smell caused by the yeast strain Brettanomyces bruxellensis (commonly known as “Brett”), which is often attributed to spontaneous fermentation, very low sulfur dioxide levels and minimal intervention winemaking. Just like conventional wines, a small amount of those aromas and flavors can add to the complexity of the wine, too much of them, however,  become wine faults. Keep in mind that there is a vast range of natural wines available. Many are exceptionally stable, with classic taste profiles and little funkiness. The perception of funkiness is heavily influenced by the winemaker's decisions and the grape varieties used.

Myth 2: Natural Wines Can't Age

Reality: The aging potential of a wine, whether natural or conventional, is determined by several factors, including acidity, tannin levels, alcohol, sugar, flavor intensity, and applied winemaking techniques. While some natural wines are made for immediate consumption in order to retain their youthful vibrancy and freshness, others are made to age gracefully over time. Naturas, like conventional wines, can have the structure and balance needed to evolve nicely in the bottle. A well-made natural wine with high levels of acidity or tannin can be aged for years, even decades.

Myth 3: Natural Wine is a New Trend

Reality: Natural wine is often perceived as a recent phenomenon, however, its origins may be traced back to the early 20th century. The natural wine movement gained momentum in the 1960s and 1970s, popularized by winemakers seeking to return to more traditional and less interventionist winemaking processes. These practices are a reaction to the industrialization of the wine industry. Instead of increasing yields and increasing economic efficiency, natural winemakers promote organic and biodynamic farming, minimal use of additives, and a minimal intervention approach in the cellar, with the aim to preserve the environment and make wines that truly express the terroir. Natural wine is, in essence, a renaissance of historical winemaking processes rather than a new trend.

Bottles of natural wine (Photo: Ryosuke Nasu,

Myth 4: Natural Wine Has No Sulfites

Reality: Sulfites are a natural byproduct of the winemaking process in the form of sulfur dioxide. They serve as a preservative in wine to prevent spoiling and oxidation. While some natural wines are made with little to no added sulfur, it's important to remember that all wines, natural or otherwise, contain sulfites to some amount. The key difference is the quantity and purpose of sulfur use. Natural winemakers may choose to use little or no sulfur, but they recognize the existence of naturally occurring sulfites in the wine.

Myth 5: All Natural Wines are Outside of the PDO System

Reality: The Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) system is well-known in Europe for controlling wine quality and origin. While some natural winemakers opt to work outside of the PDO system in order to have more freedom in creativity or innovation, many others work within it. When natural wines meet the standards for specific appellations, they are classified as such. Furthermore, some winemakers choose the "Vin de France" or "IGP/IGT" labels, which let them experiment with different grape varieties or production zones while still comply with certain regulations. Depending on the winemaker's objectives, natural wines can coexist inside and depart from the PDO system.

Myth 6: Natural Wines are Easy-Drinking but Lack Complexity

Reality: The idea that all natural wines are easy-drinking, simple and lack complexity is untrue. There is a vast variety of natural wines with incredible complexity and depth, even though some are made to be "vin de soif”, for casual sipping. Natural winemakers often take pride in allowing the terroir and the grape's true character to shine through. However, the style of wine, whether approachable or sophisticated, is the choice of winemaking. The complexity of natural wines varies greatly, just like that of conventional wines, and some great natural wines can rival some of the finest conventional wines in terms of depth and complexity.

The world of natural wine is interesting yet full of misconceptions. Hopefully, the aforementioned facts have improved your understanding of natural wine. Dear VinoVosser, whether you are a curious explorer or an experienced natural wine lover, simply switch the natural wine button on to discover the fascinating world of natural wine.

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Cheers from the VinoVoss team!

Sylvia Ba

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