The natural wine glossary

Do you know your organic from your biodynamic?
Do you know your organic from your biodynamic? Photo: Shutterstock

Some natural wine terminology which may have you in a twist. 

Biodynamic wine

Wine made with grapes grown under a set of holistic biodynamic principles and practices that regard the whole vineyard as one big living organism. Chemical pesticides are strictly banned. Just because it's a biodynamic wine, that doesn't mean it's a natural wine.

Faulty wine

Wine with unpleasant characteristics resulting from poor storage or winemaking. Natural wine is often criticised of having faults such as brett (brettanomyces – a barnyardy, old wet goat smell) and VA (volatile acidity – the scent of vinegar and nail polish remover). Sometimes these "faults" might be sought-after in a wine.

Natchie

A slang term for natural wine used by younger members of the wine-drinking community. As in "Oi, what are you doing this arvo? Keen to get on the natchies and smoke darts under a tree?" Never acceptable. "Natties" is kind of OK, though.

Natural wine

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Broadly speaking, wine fermented without commercial yeast and chemical additives. Often, but not always, made with grapes from sustainable, organic or biodynamic vineyards. Little or no sulphites are added. There isn't a standard definition for natural wine, which is what a good part of this yarn is all about.

Organic wine

Wine made from grapes grown without the use of synthetic or artificial chemicals and in accordance with the principles of organic farming. Just because it's an organic wine that doesn't mean it's a natural wine.

Skin-contact

Also known as orange wine, where white grapes are treated like red ones and the juice is macerated with the skins.

Sulphur

That is, sulphur dioxide – added as a preserving agent to most wine on the market. Some natural winemakers will cut back on sulphur or bin it completely, believing that a wine's lush fruit characteristics are in a better position to burst forth without it.

Sustainable wine

Wine made in an ecologically, economically and socially responsible way, often with organic or biodynamic grapes.