Natural Wine vs Organic Wine vs Orange Wine
These wines have been getting a lot of attention in the past couple of years, with winemakers all around the world excited to create these interesting wines. It has often left the consumer very confused as to the distinction between a Natural Wine vs Orange Wine vs Organic Wine or asking the question, ‘why would they even want to make a wine like this in the first place?’ Grab a glass of wine and let me try to explain the differences.
In Canada, Certified Organic Wines are few and far between, in part because of the difficulty of getting the cellar and bottling line certified (must only process organic fruit/wine). The vineyard and winery must be certified through either the provincial or federal certification programs, after proving that the land has been farmed to these organic standards for at least 3 years. This means that no toxic pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers are used in the vineyard, relying more on mechanical weeding, organic sprays and integrated pest management strategies to create habitats for beneficial insects. Certified organic wines also do not use any GMO products. Far more common are wines “made with organically grown grapes”, which require a minimum of 70% of the grapes to be grown organically.
Natural Wine, according to Isabelle Legeron, MW, founder of RAW Wine, is wine from grapes “farmed organically or biodynamically, and made without adding or removing anything in the cellar. No additives or processing aids are used, and intervention in the naturally occurring fermentation process is kept to a minimum. As such, neither fining nor (tight) filtration are used.” There are however no regulations or standards regarding natural wine so they can run the gamut from very clean and complex wines to a “bacterial cesspool”, as I’ve overheard some winemakers and wine writers refer to them! Ultimately, clean winemaking is clean winemaking, whether ‘natural’ or ‘conventional’.
Orange Wines, also known as Amber Wines in some parts of the world, are not made from oranges (unless perhaps you are in Florida!). Whereas grapes intended for white wines are pressed immediately and the wine is made from the juice, red wines get their colour and tannin from having the skins and seeds in the fermentation vessel with the juice; same thing with orange wines (skin-contact white wines). Our current release of an orange wine is our 2018 Orange Vidal. This wine gets its colour, medium tannins and savoury character from 3 weeks of skin contact during, and after, fermentation. Orange wines typically have a more savoury character - they are not fruity wines. Enjoy them as you would a light red - served slightly chilled, not cold, preferably with food. They will cellar for up to 5 years.
So, a natural wine is always made from organic grapes, but is not necessarily an orange wine. An orange wine is sometimes a natural wine, but not necessarily (it can be made conventionally). Certified organic wines might be natural, might be orange, but not necessarily. Any questions? 😜