Welcome to summer 2019, where the pollen in Jackson is off the charts and natural wine is making its debut. By this point, you’ve likely heard of natural wine, a trend that is sweeping the wine world. However, this concept is anything but new. Rather, it is the wine of the past, before chemical herbicides and additives were used in conventional winemaking.
In the last 50 years, wine has become increasingly industrialized and chemically modified, barely resembling the product it once was. On the flip side, “natural” implies a wine is made with organic grapes and minimal intervention. There is typically no use of chemicals on the vineyard or other additives, creating the best possible product for both your body and the earth.
While most conventional wine is made with mass-produced yeast strains, natural wine goes through a process called spontaneous fermentation. This process is much like kombucha or sourdough bread, filling the wine with good gut bacteria and similar probiotic effects. In addition, natural wines contain a group of antioxidants called polyphenols, proven to increase beneficial flora in our microbiome. These antioxidants help protect the grapes from fungi, frost, etc, and do the same for our bodies.
Unlike natural wines, conventionally produced grapes are constantly sprayed with chemical pesticides, protecting them from pests and harsh growing conditions. Due to this added defense system, these grapes don’t need to produce polyphenols to protect themselves, resulting in a wine with significantly less antioxidants.
Chemical sprays and modifications used in conventional winemaking have been linked to cancer, headaches and even a worse hangover! While many Americans buy organic meat and produce, very few of us consider what goes into our wine. The chemical sprays that we have become weary of on our fruits and vegetables are the same substances used in vineyards.
If you are like me, and ready to make the switch to natural wines, you are in luck! There are many restaurants and liquor stores that carry natural wines in Jackson. Basecamp, Bodega, The Liquor Store, Jackson Hole Marketplace, Bin 22, Westside Wine and Spirits are just a few of the many options around town to pick up a nice bottle of natural wine, free of chemicals and pesticides. Dining out? Ask your server about natural wines on the wine list.
So go ahead, cheers to summer, and feel good about the wine you are drinking!