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Why Natural Wine?

At Small Wine Shop, we specialize in what many refer to as “Natural Wine,” although we prefer to call it “Low Intervention” wine. Unfortunately, “Natural Wine” often has a negative connotation, and people associate it with unpleasant and funky-tasting wines, which makes it difficult for us to discuss the wines we genuinely appreciate with those who have had bad experiences. Nowadays, the term “natural” has taken on different meanings for different people, and this makes the word less useful. Therefore, let’s talk about the type of wine that excites us the most and why we’re moving away from using the word “natural” as frequently as before.


When we use the word “natural” here at Small Wine Shop, it means something definite.


We are talking about wine made from grapes grown with as little interference from chemicals as possible. Many farming practices fall into this category, but the two most common are Organic and Biodynamic. In a perfect world, all our wines would be made with Biodynamic grapes, but the world isn’t ideal, and every winery and region is different. Some folks follow specific practices defined by the ecological factors of the area in which they live. Salmon-Safe in the Pacific Northwest of the United States is an example of this. That is why all the wines we sell list the type of viticulture used by the winery.

The reason this is important to us here at Small Wine Shop is two-fold.

    • Farming can wreak havoc on the environment, and these more eco-friendly farming practices help ensure that these vineyards will be producing fantastic fruit for decades to come.
    • Our very firm opinion is that great wine is made in the vineyard. These back-to-nature, hands-on farming practices are focused on producing the best quality fruit possible. Which in turn means the wines are dynamic, flavorful, and unique.


Once the grapes are harvested, we leave the vineyard and all the farming talk behind. Now, we enter the cellar and the world of the winemaker. Again, the TLDR is that natural wine makers use little to no additives to make their wine.

And boy, howdy, are there a lot of things winemakers are allowed to add to wines. Many of those additives are necessary in conventional winemaking to compensate for less-than-ideal fruit. Big factory winemaking needs to control every element of the wine. So, they kill off all the natural yeasts and begin concocting a wine that has more in common with Coca-Cola than wine.

Ironically, many consumers consider natural wine “new” and conventional wines “traditional” when the reality is that conventional wines use incredibly modern ingredients and processes. Natural wines, on the other hand, are going back to the old ways. The way wine was made before World War 2.

Think about that: wine has been made for thousands of years without anything more than grapes and time, and suddenly, the world believes that wine is only “right” if it uses the methods and ingredients developed in the last 80 years!



Here is where the bad rap thing comes in. Many people (including many wine professionals) believe that natural wine means wine that smells like manure or acetone and tastes like kombucha. “Natty” has come to mean weird, off-flavor, and lacking even in some cases, people believe it will go “bad” faster.

The reality is that a contingent of the natural wine community enjoys these types of wines. They have promoted them and sold them as the epitome of what natural wine can and should be.


Wines made using native yeasts and without additives like mega-purple, powdered tannin, commercially manufactured yeasts, and fining polymers are not by nature “funky.” Flaws can and will appear, and it is up to us retailers to ensure we buy wines that exemplify the region where the wine was made and the grapes used to make it. 


There is a lot more variety in the flavor profiles of wines made using low-intervention methods. With conventional wines, you get consistency. They have dialed in a formula, and it is the same, bottling after bottling, year after year. Conventional wines (like manufactured foods) are optimized to appeal to our most basic urges. These wines are higher in sugar and alcohol than low-intervention wines and often key into simple notes across all styles, no matter where the wine was made or what grapes it was made with.


You get to play and experiment with wines. We can’t tell you how many people have come to a tasting here at the shop and discovered that they like Chardonnay after all. Or that Pinot Noir is not actually dark and jammy. There is so much to discover beyond California Cabs and New Zealand Sauv Blanc. We’d love to be your guide on this journey.


We have wines available to taste here at the shop every single day. So drop in and enjoy one of our daily tastings, or join us for one of our Monthly mini-tastings, winemaker tastings, classes, or wine dinners. There is always something new and different to try and fall in love with. If you are not local to Fort Lauderdale or getting to us in person is just not in the cards, our website is full of information about each one of the wines we sell, including farming and winemaking practices. Or feel free to email or call us and we will gladly help you select your perfect wine!