Unless It’s Natural Wine, You Are Drinking Poison—Right?
As I warned some years ago, “Natural Wine” is having its moments. Everywhere you look journalists, vintners, somms and tavern keepers are extolling the virtues of this undefined product. I’ve made something of a habit of pointing out that these champions of this marketing phrase prefer rhetoric over honesty or precision when they discuss their favorite new phrase/product. And though pointing out the deceit of these Natural Wine Champions has probably no impact whatsoever on the fraud that they perpetuate, I feel it necessary—or perhaps just desirable—to continue to do so.
Today I want to draw my readers’ attention to a story in the East Bay Express out of the Bay Area written by April Kilcrease that discusses the wine bar, Punchdown, in Oakland, California. Couple Lisa Cost and D.C Looney (how can you not like that name!!) own the bar. In explaining the couples dedication to Natural Wine, Kilcrease make the same kind of bogus claim that so many other champions of Natural Wine choose to make, yet which they know is wrong:
“While many consumers assume that grapes are all that goes into a bottle of wine, a typical recipe can read more like a chemistry experiment.”
The typical wine produced today has ingredients that read like a”chemistry experiment”? Of the thousands of wines make in CA the typical wine from this state is made with chemicals. Not only does Kilcrese not know this, she likely knows its wrong. Yet she writes its.
But there’s more.
Costa notes, “A lot of wines are manipulated to taste the same way to satisfy what some people call the ‘Coca-Cola palate”
If Costa is willing to say and presumably believe this, will she have any problem with me saying something along the lines of:
“most so-called ‘Natural Wines’ are the product of faulty even disastrous winemaking techniques that end out as a biological soup best suited washing out horse stalls.”
When confronted with their ludicrous statements about most wines and “typical” wines, folks like Costa and Kilcrease will most commonly say that they are referring to the mass-produced “supermarket” wines. But they never say this unless they are challenged. Rather, they attempt to leave the impression that all but natural wines are laden with chemicals and additives to the point of danger. This is irresponsible. The real problem is they don’t know its irresponsible. That’s a failure of morals and ethics, not a failure of literary precision.
And speaking of literary imprecision, I want to leave readers with these two quotes from the article:
Costa: “The grape itself naturally has all the elements necessary to make wine. As long as you keep other bacteria from infecting it, you have wine that’s basically made itself. No other fruit in the world does that — only grapes.”
Costa: “terroir: the unique flavor of a place that comes from its particular combination of soil, climate”
Oh, Brother. Next thing we’ll hear is that “you can taste the soil in Natural Wines”.