Natural Wine — Late To the Party

In today’s New York Times Sunday Review section writer Bianca Bosker pens a very coherent defense of processed wine. In doing so, however, she notes the thing that has always confused me about Natural Wine champions.

Bosker observes that adherents of the “Natural Wine” movement make a point of insisting that the wines they produce are nothing like and are an alternative to the “industrialized, big brand, manufactured, nothing-but-alcoholic-grape-juice wines”—as the Naturalistas have deemed big brand wine.

It has always been a bashfest of the “industrial” or “commercial” wines that natural wine champions rail against. They have always offered up their products as an alternative to these “chemical-laden” wines.

Isn’t this about the lowest bar natural wine could possible set for itself. Aren’t they playing limbo with the bar on the top rung? Did they not notice that 95% of the wineries in the world had already rejected the idea of making processed wine well before they ever got into the game? Pretty soon the natural wine folks will be telling us that we ought to consider using the World Wide Web to communicate with younger wine drinkers.

Indeed!

This myopic view of the wine world has always been and continues to be the ideological Achilles heel of the natural wine world. While introducing no ideas, no new production techniques, and no innovation to the marketplace, they insist their opposition to big brand wines is some sort of revolution. It’s not. It’s the low road and the safe path.

Ironically, it’s Bosker’s argument and philosophy laid out in the article that is something new: a defense of processed, cheap wine that will appeal to the masses and just might capture a few of those mass-market, sweet wine drinkers into the ranks of the oenophiles.

As for the natural wine drinkers, I say welcome to the party. It’s nice to know that you’ve discovered that artisan wine is very good. Unfortunately, you’re late the party. We’ve eaten all the food. And the only wine left is this biodynamically farmed, brett-laden bottle that is still nearly full. 

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2 Responses

  1. Bob Rossi - March 21, 2017

    “adherents of the “Natural Wine” movement make a point of insisting that the wines they produce are nothing like and are an alternative to the “industrialized, big brand, manufactured, nothing-but-alcoholic-grape-juice wines””
    My response to this type of comment has always been: “Isn’t there plenty of good wine in between?”

  2. Morten Hallgren - March 22, 2017

    It is not a coincidence that most “natural wines” come from struggling regions, where the wineries wouldn’t be able to sell their wines without resorting to this kind of dogmatic scheming


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