SKATTY X NATTY – WHAT’S ALL THE FUSS ABOUT NATURAL WINE?
When my good friends over at libation asked me to write a little something on the joys of natural wine, I’ll admit I was sceptical. In fact, sceptical implies no prior experience – I had sunk some natural wine before at a very trendy Turkish restaurant that shall remain unnamed, which unfortunately led to me washing my mouth out with several Espresso Martinis at Dalston Superstore.
Safe to say, I was hesitant. But when my bottle of Baby Bandito’s Keep on Punching arrived, its striking image and fluro-yellow lettering had an intriguing charm. The label, giving nothing away, helpfully told me it was ‘made from grapes’. Great. On further research, I discovered that this was a dry white, brimming with notes of crisp apple and an underlying earthiness; I decided for optimum results to pair with a seasonal butternut squash risotto, and it was – in the words of the Pasta Queen – ‘just gorgeous’.
On this occasion then, the natty wine got the skatty seal of approval – but why go au naturel in the first place?
Unbeknownst to many, most modern wines produced today use high levels of chemical additives to ensure a consistent, palatable flavour, and additional sulphur to aid preservation. Natural wines take it back to pre-commercialization and can be best described as ‘just f****** fermented grape juice’ with minimal intervention. That’s right, just like your brows, sometimes less really is more.
For my weekday vegans, Natty wines aren’t made using any animal products, and so are perfectly safe to enjoy for vegetarians and strict vegans alike. Their sometimes-cloudy appearance may take a second to get used to, but the thought that no fish bladders (really) were utilised in the purification process will certainly help that first sip slip down even easier. You can feel less guilty about the garlic prawns you eat to accompany it too.
There is grumbling around natural wine that it’s too Funky with a capital F. For those of us more used to picking up whatever’s under a tenner in Tesco, that first gulp of natty wine can leave us confused. It feels unfamiliar. It’s got character – and it’s not afraid to show it. This is because more than anything, natural wine is not a conveyor belt of identikit, easy-going wines: it’s a labour of love. It’s the result of winemakers that really care about their final product, that are creative in taste and design, and that are striving to achieve that ultimate millennial buzzword of ‘sustainability’. This passion is detectable in every glass. What’s more, natty empty bottles are nothing short of collectables, with each beautifully artistic label telling the wine’s story – in a highly trendy and aesthetic way, obvs.
The discovery of natty wines is only the start of an exciting journey, and the libation wine club is the perfect vehicle in which to embark on that intoxicating adventure. Not every wine will be an immediate favourite in the way that every bottle of yellowtail Shiraz was, but where’s the fun in that anyway? Put your tastebuds to the test and give the natty wines a go. Skint and skatty says so.