The Current

'God doesn't make wine. God makes vinegar': Backlash against natural wine is a corker

The natural wine movement means there's no filtering or fining of the wine and no chemicals are added in the process. It's a method some wine lovers won't buy into.

This trend will see consumers pay for 'disgusting' taste, says winemaker

There's no such thing as natural wine, argues former wine critic Robert Joseph. (Mike Hutchings/Reuters)

Read Story Transcript

Conventional winemakers are sounding the alarm over a vineyard revolution that is taking the art of making wine back to its authentic roots. 

The natural wine movement means there's no filtering or fining of the wine and no chemicals are added in the process. It's a method some wine lovers won't buy into.

"The implication is that it's the way God would make wine," said Robert Joseph, a former wine critic who co-runs a vineyard in France.

"God doesn't make wine. God makes vinegar and God makes raisins. There is no evidence that God ever made wine," he told The Current's guest host Mike Finnerty.

The growing popularity over natural wine has some in the industry questioning what place these rebel vintners should occupy. (Pixabay/yoyo61 )

Joseph said it's because of useful techniques — like using sulfur dioxide to prevent wine from going bad — that people aren't having to drink vinegar or wine with all sorts of other flavours.

"At the moment, we have a lot of people buying natural wines for some political reasons ... spiritual reasons — rather than the taste," he said.

Natural wine connoisseur

At the farm-to-table restaurant Burdock & Co in Vancouver, featuring natural wines almost exclusively on the wine list just made sense.

"These are wines that actually say something about where they're grown, when they were grown and what the varietal is and less about a counter movement," said Matthew Sherlock, the wine director at Burdock & Co.

The transparency of the natural winemaking process is an art that Sherlock said pairs nicely with the chef's philosophy and the food offered. Plus, he adds, natural wine tastes superb.

Wine writer Robert Joseph says the surge in popularity over natural wine is in part about getting back to artisanship, similar to the trend with craft beer lately. (Pixabay/kropekk_pl)

"I don't want to drink wine that's oxidized, cidery, has lots of volatile acidity, just in the same way I don't want to drink wine that has mega purple added or has been through a spin clone," he said, adding all it represents to him is how smart the lab tech was.

"I want to taste delicious wine."

Joseph said he's tried good natural wine and has met traditional winemakers learning from this movement and changing how they do things.

"So in many ways it will have been a good thing but along the way, there would be some pretty disgusting wines that would have been poured and paid for by unfortunate consumers."

Listen to the full conversation near the top of this page.

This segment was produced by The Current's Jessica Linzey.