What is natural wine and where in Germany produces the best natural wine?
Hands up those who have spent years living in fear of being the person asked to ‘test’ the wine in a restaurant? We certainly have, saying “mmm yes, this is delicious,” while thinking *yes, tastes like red wine*...!
Wine, we thought, was a serious business, but it doesn’t have to be, and that’s why we love 8greenbottles, a natural wine company run by Ramona and Philipp. They founded 8greenbottles in 2017 with the idea to make wine more accessible, less serious and more transparent. Natural wine is such a cool substance to work with: it’s a product with such a long history and yet there is something new and fresh about it.
So as part of our local hero series, we picked up the phone to ask Ramona about German’s natural and biodynamic wines so we know what to look for when we visit vineyards later this year!
Ok, so we’ve heard of natural wine, but what actually is it? Is it different from biodynamic wine?
“There is no official definition of natural wine (yet!). But for us, we like our wines to fulfil the following 5 criteria: (1) organic or biodynamic farming, (2) all grapes are hand-picked, (3) no industrial yeast, (4) no or minimal filtration and (5) no or minimal added sulfites. Basically, it’s fermented grape juice!
Some biodynamic wines are natural, but others might be filtered or contain amounts of sulfites, for example, that wouldn’t meet the criteria for natural wine.”
Can you taste the difference between natural and ‘normal’ wine?
“The wine tastes more alive! It's actually not easy to put into words. You'll have to try one yourself!”
You focus on German and Austrian wines (here’s to supporting local!): what wine-producing areas of Germany are you most excited about, and which wine growers should we look out for?
“Our German selection includes wines from the regions Baden, Pfalz, Rheinhessen, Nahe, Mosel and Franken. We love them all!
“At the moment, we are very excited about the Nahe (Rhineland-Palatinate). It used to be so difficult to even find natural wine in that region, but now there are two amazing female winegrowers who began making natural wine here in the last year: Glow Glow and Piri. We are very excited about their new vintages!”
“Another winegrower to look out for is Alanna LaGamba from Rheinhessen. Last year she produced her first vintage; she only made one wine and very fittingly called it Frauenpower. We’re excited to taste her new wines, which will be released soon.
“But in general, we are so excited to see so many young women producing amazing natural wines!”
Big question: how should we taste wine properly?
“Chill all wines (yes, even reds), don’t eat anything too pungent or strong right before tasting and don’t chew gum while tasting. But other than that, just sip and enjoy the flavour on your tongue. Also, I find that nice wine glasses help to set the scene, but that’s definitely not a must!”
Ok, sound simple! But if we want to sample the range of German grape varieties, which wines would you suggest we start with?
“It’s always nice to start with indigenous varietals like Riesling, Silvaner, Müller-Thurgau, Dornfelder etc. It’s so cool to see how different these varietals taste when the wine is not an industrial wine.”
Finally, we can’t talk to you and not ask where you love to holiday in Germany!
“One of my favourite places to visit in Germany is Ahrenshoop by the Ostsee (located on the Fischland-Darß peninsular). I actually love to visit it out of the summer season, because it's just as beautiful and more tranquil in the colder months. I love the quiet, slow and artsy feel of the place (and also the Fischbrötchen!). Plus it's the ideal vacation spot for my dog, as dogs are allowed on some stretches of the beach so she gets to run around like the maniac she is!”
Thank you so much for sharing, Ramona!
You can find 8greenbottles in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, or online. They have a beautiful philosophy: “We don't want a big wine shop. There are already so many of those. We want a small, manageable wine shop with wines that give us pleasure. We want wines that are made by hand. Wines that are free of unnecessary additives. Behind which are people who are likeable and from whom you want to learn.”
They are currently offering members of The Staycation Collection 8% off all orders. Find out how to claim here.