Want a Clue How a Wine is Made? Play Spin The Bottle…


Despite our romantic visions of wine (ripe with nature, verdant vineyards and rolling hills), wine (most of it) is a manufactured product.  It is processed to achieve a specific style and taste profile, then produced in mass and shipped across the country, as consistent and denatured as any other packaged product on the shelf.  Yet most of us are completely unaware of what’s in wine, even as we have become increasingly conscious about the food we eat.  Because there is no ingredient label, no list of the genetically-modified yeasts, sugar, concentrated fruit juice, oak chips, milk products, Mega Purple, powdered tannins or the 100-ish other potential additives allowed in the winemaking process, we just assume wine is simple, elemental even.  Nothing but grapes doing their alcoholic fermentation thing, right?  If only….

Luckily there IS a ton of excellent natural wine out there, one just needs to know how to find it.  But without ingredient labels to guide you, you might ask yourself: “how do I find such wines if my wine shop/restaurant server/local Whole Foods doesn’t know anything about how the wine is made?” Answer: acquaint yourselves with the importers who specialize in low-intervention wines!  Then spin the bottle around to check out the back label and see who imports it – this tiny tidbit of information alone will provide important clues about the style and constitution of the juice, and help guide you when choosing blindly.  Without knowing anything else about the wine, I know that if one of the guys on my short list below bring it in, the wine is, at the very least, farmed without chemicals, made without additives and dosed with minimal amounts of sulfur.  And it’s generally damn good.  So, if what’s in wine is important to you, take matters into your own hands. Print this cheat sheet, memorize a few names, then get to shopping with your newfound expertise.


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