Natural wine and biodynamic wine – what is it and why does it matter?

At Farmyard our wines are chosen with ethics and sustainability in mind. All wine has an impact on the environment, but, just as with food, there are ways to drink greener. Most of our range is natural or biodynamic, and others are low intervention and organic. We call it #GreenWine.

Here are some commonly asked questions about natural wine and biodynamic wine.

Download our full wine list here, or keep reading for more information about the wines we sell and why.

We also sell wine to go. Find out about our Wine Shop here.

What is natural wine?
The term Natural Wine is less strictly defined than something like organic, for example. It is used to describe wines which are not only made from grapes farmed organically, but also made without adding or removing anything in the winery. That means no additives or processing aids and generally keeping intervention to a strict minimum.

Natural wines are also unfined and unfiltered, resulting in a living wine with character and personality – sometimes with cloudiness and a slight effervescence.

What does it mean to be unfined?
Fining is the process of clarifying wines, and is the reason why most commercial wines are crisp and clear. Natural wines are often cloudy as they do not go through this process. Fining is also the reason that many wines are not vegan or vegetarian. Common agents used for fining are casein (milk protein), albumin (egg whites), gelatin (animal protein) and isinglass (fish bladder). Natural wine is unfined and therefore naturally vegan.

And what exactly is biodynamic wine?
The idea behind biodynamics is that everything in the universe is interconnected, including the moon, planets and stars. Biodynamic farming is completely organic, but also follows a special lunar calendar. So biodynamic wine is made from grapes grown in this way. In addition to this, biodynamic wine uses no ‘manufactured’ additions, even organic ones. For example, commercial yeast won’t be added to the wine, instead harnessing naturally occurring yeasts from the grapes and winery.

What are sulphites?
Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is used by many conventional winemakers to preserve wine and prevent oxidation. Natural wine has no added sulphur, although some very small quantities may still naturally occur.

And do sulphites cause hangovers?
It’s not scientifically proven, but the use of SO2 has been linked to allergic reactions, asthma and worse hangovers. Anecdotally, we can certainly vouch for it being true!

Is natural wine more sustainable?
Working out whether a wine is sustainable or not is a complicated business, but a few key things to consider are whether farming methods are organic, water and energy efficiency in the vineyard and winery, and whether winery workers are paid fairly and treated well. Transportation is also an important issue, which is why the majority of our wines are from Europe (and Sussex and Kent). We believe a few treats are worth bringing in from further afield, though.

Here are some good resources for finding out more about natural and biodynamic wine:
https://www.rawwine.com/the-wine/what-is-natural-wine
https://therealwinefair.com
http://www.isabellelegeron.com

Download our full wine list here, or keep reading for more information about the wines we sell and why.

We also sell wine to go. Find out about our Wine Shop here.