If you’ve recently visited a wine bar or restaurant with a large wine menu, you’ve probably noticed a few “natural wines” on the menu—along with the higher price tag that comes with them. But, aside from being a trendy term you can use to impress your friends or coworkers at the next happy hour, what is natural wine? And does the fact that it’s natural implies that it’s healthier than regular, conventional wine?
While naturals haven’t yet made their way everywhere, they appear to be on their way because they keep sneaking their way into bars and restaurants. First, however, we wanted to know if trying this wine was worthwhile and could provide additional health benefits over drinking a regular glass.
What exactly is natural wine?
Although natural wine appears to be a popular topic, there aren’t many clear definitions.
While there is no universally accepted definition of natural wine, most winemakers and drinkers agree that natural wines are made with organic grapes and no additives in the winemaking process. As a result, natural wine does not have a governing body or a clear definition, and it is frequently used interchangeably with terms such as low intervention, raw, or naked.
The goal of making natural wine is to make it without additives, with minimal sulfites, and using organic or biodynamic farming practices. However, this label has sparked debate in the wine world because anyone can market their wine using the term “natural” without restriction.
Is it different than organic wine?
Natural wine is a wine industry term vaguely related to organic and biodynamic wines. Indeed, rising interest in organic wine has given rise to several subcategories, including biodynamic, clean, and natural wine. In other words, organic includes natural, clean, and biodynamic terms.
Biodynamic wines are similar to organic wines in that both require sustainable farming practices, but biodynamic wines are permitted to contain more sulfites than organic wines. Roundup, a common herbicide, is also not permitted in grapes used in biodynamic wines.
Clean wine is another subset of organic wine similar to natural wine. Both clean and natural wines are made to use fewer additives, but natural wine is more concerned with returning to the roots of winemaking.
Ultimately, natural isn’t much healthier than regular wine
So, is natural wine better for your body than conventional wine? Overall, the differences appear to be minor, and even so, more research is needed because only small studies have been documented.
When consumed in the same amount and under the same conditions, natural wine induces a lower blood alcohol concentration, the measurement of how much alcohol is found in your bloodstream after you drink, than regular wine. According to the researchers, this could be due to various factors, including differences in yeasts used and a lack of pesticide residue.
Despite differences in blood alcohol levels, no long-term health effects of natural vs. conventional wine appear to be discovered. Finally, keep in mind that when it comes to the effects of alcohol on your body, natural wine is still wine.
While natural or organic wine may alleviate concerns about pesticides or other additives, heavy alcohol consumption, whether natural or not, has been linked to an increased risk of developing certain cancers. In addition, excessive consumption of natural alcohol, like conventional wine, can harm liver health, cognitive function, and other effects. So, regardless of which wine variety a person chooses, whether natural, regular, biodynamic, or otherwise, limiting consumption is a good idea.
It all comes down to your personal objectives when selecting a wine. If avoiding pesticides and lowering your sulfite intake is important to you, you might want to try a natural or organic wine. However, if you prefer a more traditional wine, you can drink it as long as you do so in moderation.
Learn more: Surprising Effects of Drinking Cranberry Juice