Wine is my vice.
Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you the same. I’m a hedonist. I believe that life is worth living to the full and sipping on a glass (or two) of fermented grape juice certainly offers a pleasurable experience.
So imagine my delight when I discovered natural wines? “Natty” wines, for those in the know.
Not only can I enjoy a delicious drink, but I also get to do so in the knowledge that it’s sustainable and usually vegan! Plus, natural winemaking involves another passion of mine: traditional fermentation (using wild yeasts, of course) – did I mention that I am obsessed with fungi and everything they do for us?
Anyway, enough about me and my predilections…
Whilst the word “natural” is relatively ambiguous, it is generally accepted that natty wine is fermented grape juice and nothing else. From the cultivation all the way through to bottling, all processes should be as natural as possible.
That means that:
- The grapes should be cultivated organically, veganically or biodynamically without the use of pesticides, chemicals and herbicides.
- The fermentation should involve wild, naturally-occurring yeasts rather than commercially isolated strains.
- No sugar, acidifiers, chemicals or any of the other materials from the long list of legal wine additives should be used to ease the winemaking process or “correct” the beverage.
- The use of hi-tech manipulation, such as micro-oxygenation and reverse osmosis, is also often avoided to maintain the more traditional techniques, such as intelligent barrel use.
Most of the time.
Many natural wines avoid the use of fining agents and leave their wine unfiltered. What’s more, the producers of natty wines are much more likely to grow veganic grapes or at least exclude the use of harmful pesticides. However, like all organic food and drink, some farmers will use manure and other animal-based fertilisers. So it really depends on where you draw the line morally.
Make sure you read our article on vegan winemakers for more information about vegan wine!
If you’re looking for natural wines that are also vegan, then we recommend buying your wine from Libation. All of the wines they stock are cruelty-free and exclude the use of animal products!
Exquisite. No, seriously. Natural wine stimulates your taste buds and invigorates your senses. It tastes like unadulterated fermented grape juice. Pure and alive!
And, just like any other fermented food or drink, natty wines vary in their strength of flavour.
You may have heard some people describe natural wine as “funky” and some of them certainly are. But with over 10,000 wine grape varieties in the world and a whole host of climates, winemaking techniques, ageing processes and who knows how many wild yeasts, there are plenty of factors that can influence the flavour of natural wine. In other words, not all natural wines are “funky”, and many of them taste just like “normal” wine.
In fact, if you’re new to natural wines and you’re not sure that you’re ready for anything too “out there” then we’ve got just the thing.
For starters, natty wine is a great talking point and can trigger some wholesome debates around the dinner table!
They’re also unique, deliciously varied, healthy and more environmentally friendly.
Let’s start by saying that natural wines (since they’re mostly vegan) are better for your soul! Drinking wine in the knowledge that it hasn’t caused any animal suffering has indeed improved my wellbeing and, if you’re an ethical vegan, I’m certain it will make you feel better too!
As for health benefits, that’s slightly more contested. Let’s start with the use of…
We can certainly say that the lack of pesticides in natural wine is a major plus! Long-term exposure to pesticides has been linked to cancer, reproductive issues and even death. And pesticides don’t only affect the drinker of the wine, but also the health of the farmworkers that have to handle these chemicals. Not to mention the knock-on effect pesticides have on the ecosystem.
As for the additives?
Well, there have been a few infamous cases of dangerous additives used in the past, but nowadays, they’re much safer and highly regulated.
Virtually everything we consume has additives, including the water we drink from the tap. In fact, many of the additives we eat and drink are used to protect us from nasties such as harmful bacterial growth and lead poisoning from pipes.
But there are a few additives that we believe are completely unnecessary, such as the fining agents that filter out sediment in the wine (often animal products, such as fish bladders and gelatin). Natural wines often exclude the use of such additives, great news for vegans!
Oh and, whilst alcohol is still alcohol (which is toxic if drunk in excess), we heard on the grapevine that natural wines cause fewer hangovers 😉
Vegan Sisters Natural Wine Box
The best natural wines to try
We have tried a range of natural wines all generously provided to us by Libation. Read our thoughts on each top pick…
Lo Petit Fantet D’Hippolyte
Bursting with the flavours of ripe fruit and imparting a deliciously creamy mouthfeel, Lo Petit Fantet D’Hippolyte hits the spot! It’s refreshing yet rich at the same time and beautifully balanced; a great wine to drink al fresco with friends.
Oh, and the label is designed by the winemaker’s young son, Hippolyte, who regularly surveys the vineyards with his father. How cute is that?
Reserve de Gassac Rose 2017
Strawberries and clotted cream in a glass…but without being sickly sweet! In fact, the Reserve de Gassac is a gorgeously crisp and dry natural rosé wine that stimulates the tastebuds and excites the mind.
I was so impressed by the quality of this rosé, since it’s one of the most affordable natty wines I’ve come across. The Reserve de Gassac looks, smells and tastes like a top-class Provence rosé but costs a good deal less!
Baglio Antico Bianco
If you haven’t tried orange wine before, you HAVE to try this! It’s so velvety smooth and almost bitter, like an alcoholic tea, whilst remaining light and refreshing on the palate. It’s orange because the full grapes (skin and all) were macerated during the natural yeast fermentation phase.
I’d agree with the tasting notes that this natural orange wine pairs well with something spicy, such as vegan Korean food. However, I personally prefer to drink this wine on its own, with nothing to distract you from its complex flavours; much like how you would enjoy a glass of single malt whisky.
Gran Cerdo Tempranillo
Yum yum yum, the deep rich mineral flavours of this natural red wine pair perfectly with umami, mushroom-based dishes; a match made in heaven! It’s also the best natty wine to serve at your next vegan cheese party.
Affordable, organic, biodynamic and vegan, the Gran Cerdo is another must-try for natty wine enthusiasts!
Buy natural wine
Natural wines can be found popping up all over the internet, but we have discovered the one-stop-shop for natty wines (that are also 100% vegan), Libation!
An online natural wine shop on a mission to make vegan and natty wine more accessible to the masses. What’s more, they offset their deliveries by planting trees!
“Libation” means a drink poured out as an offering to a deity and we love how their logo portrays Hermes, the herald of the Greek gods, delivering the natural wine to their customers. It almost makes me feel as though I am the divine being, with Hermes chucking sweet nectar down my gullet!
Why not watch our full video review of the Libation natural wine selection here:
What natural wines can you buy through libation?
Libation sells a wide variety of natural wines including white, rosé, orange (skin contact wine), red and sparkling. You can also search for wines by producer or country.
Are Libation wines affordable?
For high quality, delicious, vegan, natural wines…yes! And there are a number of bundle deals on offer to keep things even more budget-friendly.
Buy Natural Wines On Libation
We have collaborated with Libation to bring you the Vegan Sisters Natural Wine Box. It’s bloody good value and is a great starter pack for amateur natty wine drinkers.
Get 20% off with code VEGANSISTERS20