Ok, folks, calm down please.
I knew that I was stirring the pot a bit with my recent commentary regarding what is often referred to as the Natural Wine Movement, but I didn’t expect quite so many personal responses.
Quite a few of you pinged me out of concern that I’d finally succumbed to my consternation and became an old fart (nope – I think that ship has sailed, maybe with the exception of the “old” part); or offering long, thoughtful treatises on why I was wrong in my conclusion that the term “natural wine” is all but meaningless and therefore more of a bane of confusion for consumers than a helpful tag upon which they could hang their hat in terms of better understanding wine in general. Still others worried that I was doing nothing more than bitching about the terminology (guilty!); and then there was the hate mail… because apparently if I have a beef with the term “natural wine,” it means that I hate all things having to do with the movement (uhm… just… NO).
Allow me to offer a more cogent explanation on my position:
I. DO. NOT. HATE. NATURAL. WINES.
I have had many wines that may or may not fit into the Natural Wine camp that I have dearly loved, and many that I thought smelled and/or tasted like rancid donkey ass. I have nothing against making wines in a minimally interventionist style.
The problem is that there is no one who can tell you, me, or anyone else whether or not a wine is “natural.” As I argued at length, the term is simply too vague, and it’s passed time for us in the wine biz to try to rectify that, for the sake of curious consumers everywhere.
Let’s look at the situation another way:
You. Don’t. Have. A. Movement. When. You. Cannot. Define. The. Movement.
Without at least a semblance of an agreed definition/aim/goal, you don’t really have a movement at all; you have vague shared hopes. I’m NOT saying that those hopes don’t have merit (they do), or that they are wrong (they’re probably not). But I am saying that we can’t have our wine cake and eat it, too. “Natural Wine” needs a new moniker, clearer leadership, and better guidelines beyond the pornography definition of “I know when I see it” (or, in this case, smell it).