What is Natural Wine?

June 10, 2019

Confused about natural wine? You’re not the only one.

Natural wine is an all-encompassing word for wines that are made with respect to the land. This typically means making wine with organically-grown grapes and avoiding the use of sulfites and chemicals during the fermentation process. However, there is no official definition and “respect to the land” can be interpreted in a million different ways. So, natural wine is actually a very broad term!

If you ask for a natural wine at a bar or shop, you will probably get asked for more specifics so here are the most common types of natural wine with some explanations to boot.

Organic Wine

Organic wine is made from grapes that are farmed using organic practices. Although regulated differently in every country, most agree that the farmer must use natural methods to control pests rather than resorting to pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals.

Some countries, like the United States, require that wine makers limit additives and restrict the addition of chemicals during processing. It’s worth noting this is not the case for wines made in Canada and most of Europe.

Since it’s expensive and difficult to get certified organic, many natural wine makers forego the official stamp of approval and aren’t able to promote their bottles as such. You can find out if a vineyard is making their wine in a truly organic spirit by doing some simple online research or asking the knowledgeable staff at your local wine spot.

Biodynamic Wine

Biodynamic wine is like organic wine taken to the next level thanks to Rudolf Steiner. This philosopher from the 1920s vouched for a natural farming practices based on astrology and the lunar calendar. One part of the process even calls for a cow horn to be stuffed with manure and buried only to be excavated at a later date.

However, these are the more woo woo elements of Steiner’s philosophy. His main aim was to get wine makers to view the vineyard as its own ecosystem. One that relies on all aspects of nature (plant, animals, and buried cow horns alike) in order to maintain balance and provide the best situation for growing grapes.

Vegan Wine

You might be surprised to find out that not all wine is vegan. Even though wine is made from grapes, some winemakers use animal products like albumin (egg whites), gelatin (made either from animal products), and isinglass (a gelatin made from fish bladders) during a process called fining that helps remove sediment.

Interestingly enough, most wine will self-fine if given enough time and some winemakers intentionally use vegan-friendly products during fining. That means a lot of wines out there are vegan! Vegan wines sometimes have a description on the back label that denotes it as vegan friendly. You can also check out the winemaker’s website or look for your wine bottle on Barnivore’s comprehensive list of vegan wines.

Vin de France

Previously known as Vin de Table (table wine), Vin de France is an official category of wine that literally translates as “wine from France.” It is lowly regulated and relatively easy to obtain, which is noteworthy because French wine laws are notoriously strict.

For many years, this category of wine mainly consisted of cheap table wines that were intended for everyday consumption at home. Some marketers were smart and imported these bottles to other countries where Vin de France seems like something special and they could get a better price for it.

But then came the natural wine makers! Many of them were already bucking tradition with their wine making process, so it’s probably no surprise that they also chose to eschew the traditional wine designation process and chose the label that’s easiest to obtain. As a result, many natural wines are labeled simply as Vin de France.

Orange Wine

Orange wine is a popular type of wine in the natural wine world that is made from white wine grapes.

When making traditional white wine, the wine maker presses the juice from the grapes and then allows it to ferment. Orange wine is fermented using the entire white wine grape including the skin, seeds, stems, and all. For the record, red wine is made in this exact same way.

True to the name, orange wines range in hue from a pale golden yellow to a true orange or dark bronze. Some even come out more on the pink side. The weirdest thing about orange wines is that they often look like a white wine but have tasting notes that are more typical of bold red. Although I guess that isn’t so weird because orange wines are basically white grapes that are processed like red wines.

Skin-Contact Wine

A skin-contact wine is one that goes into the barrel with the grape skins on so that they skins stay in contact with the juice for a certain amount of time (either a few days and sometimes up to a year).

Since red wine is typically processed this way, most people use the term when referring to white wines. This means skin-contact wines are also orange wines and orange wines are skin-contact wines.

Pét-Nat Wine

Pét-Nat, short for Pétillant Naturel, is a sparkling wine that is increasing popular with natural wine makers.

Most sparkling wines like Champagne, Cava, and Prosecco get their fizz from a second fermentation when yeast, yeast nutrients, and sugar are added to the wine. This reliably creates a strong, tight intensity that we’ve come to associate with the bubbly stuff.

On the other hand, Pét-Nat is processed using the Méthode Ancestrale. It only goes through one fermentation in the bottle and relies on the natural sugars of the grapes to create subtler bubbles. This takes a lot of skill to regulate and is not as predictable, which many natural wine makers see as a fun element of the process.

P.S. Go on a wine adventure with me to Helen’s Wines, a wine shop in Los Angeles that stocks lots of natural wines.

French Connections

March 18, 2019

Spring is almost here! I’m feeling renewed and refreshed after doing some early spring cleaning at the maison, watching a few episodes of Queer Eye, and spending Sunday at the beach. Here are some links about fashion, wine, and food!

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12 Favorite Books I’ve Read in the Past 2 Years

March 6, 2019

Any book lover knows the true joy of losing yourself in a good book and enjoying every page until the very (bittersweet) end.

Here are twelve of my absolute favorites that I enjoyed wholeheartedly while reading sometime during the past two years. I hope you’ll love them as much as I did!

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Guide to Mexico City, Mexico

January 28, 2019

Walking in Polanco in the Guide to Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City is a huge metropolis filled to the brim with nearly 20 million people. In a place this big, it’s probably no surprise that there something for everyone.

Brave the traffic in an Uber to explore a neighborhood with immaculate museums and tasting menus at high-end restaurants along tree-lined boulevards. Then, hop in the metro to explore another area with colorful markets, colonial buildings, and a collection of pulque bars.

No matter where you go, you’ll be surrounded by insanely good food, art, and culture. And, of course, masses and masses of people!

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2019 Food and Wine Resolutions

January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!

Don’t you love the beginning of the year and all the promise it holds? After weeks of celebrations, wine, and cheese (so much cheese), life slows down enough for quiet reflection and thoughts for what is ahead.

Similar to last year, I’m focusing my New Year’s resolutions on food and wine. Here’s what I’m looking forward to drinking and eating in 2019!

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Guide to Seattle, Washington

December 20, 2018

Known as the birthplace of grunge rock and land of a booming tech industry, Seattle is a fun area to explore if you are into coffee, food, and fun. The city tows the line of being familiar and casual while also maintaining a modern and high-end vibe, which basically means there is something for everyone.

No matter what you do, you’ll enjoy views of the beautiful Pacific Northwest whether you are taking in the luscious green spaces or looking towards the waters of Puget Sound. Enjoy a long weekend here with your loved ones whether old or young!

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French Connections

December 17, 2018

Happy holidays to you!

Most evenings we’ve been enjoying a glass of wine in front of the Christmas tree but this past weekend we got dolled up for the fanciest holiday party of the season. We drank champagne to our heart’s content, enjoyed the delicious food, and were wowed by the beautifully decorated tree. It was a grand ole time.

Hope you too had a great weekend and have more festive fun planned ahead. In the meantime, here are some links for you to enjoy.

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Our Experience at the Le Méridien Bora Bora (Honest Review)

November 26, 2018

Want to take the best vacation of your life?

Then, save all your pennies for the Le Méridien resort in Bora Bora, Tahiti. The monsieur and I stayed there for five days about a year ago. It remains our best vacation to date and we’ve been to some pretty amazing places!

Located on an islet opposite of Mount Otemanu, this luxury hotel offers endless opportunities to bask in the French Polynesian sun, splash about in the bright blue water, and relax yourself into utter bliss.

Tahiti is paradise but this place on Bora Bora is a slice of heaven on earth. I’ll be sharing our experience with honest details on the room and amenities, restaurants, activities, and service.

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Minimalist Kitchen Essentials on a Budget

November 19, 2018

Back when I was on a tight budget, it really bugged me when bloggers would list their essential items and the prices were totally out of reach. How can you shell out a few hundred dollars for one item when it’s almost half your paycheck?

When I posted my minimalist kitchen essentials a while back, I realized that I’d become that blogger and so I quickly started working on this post. All the items are from Target since it’s an affordable big box store with locations all over the US.

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4 Affordable Trader Joe’s Wines for Thanksgiving

November 12, 2018

Thanksgiving is notoriously known as a tough meal for wine pairing. You basically need an easy drinking crowdpleaser that complements all the flavors of fall. But where to find that? Look no further than your local Trader Joe’s!

These four wines are perfect for Turkey Day. They are fun, fruity, and on the lighter side so they overpower your fave dishes. Plus, each bottle is under $10 so buying wine for everyone won’t break the bank!

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Guide to Portland, Oregon

November 8, 2018

Society Hotel Room View in Guide to Portland, Oregon

Portland is a big city with a small town feel and a great deal of pride for being home of the weird. Spend a long weekend exploring the funky neighborhoods and enjoying the laidback atmosphere. Go if you love beer, go if you love rain, or go just for fun and you’ll find yourself falling in love with this quirky place.

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French Connections

November 5, 2018

Aren’t lazy Sundays the best? I spent yesterday cooking up a storm, organizing things around the house, and reading all our back issues of Bon Appétit.

It was a great way to reset after a long week of work and the wonderful intensity of the Fall 10×10 Style Challenge. Anyhow, enjoy these links on wining, dining, and styling!

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