Best natural wines of 2021

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One of the things I missed most about the throes of social distancing was chatting with the experts at my local wine store as they helped me choose the perfect bottle for the occasion I was looking for. After describing my awesome ideal, cold red or cloudy orange creamsicle of my dreams, they usually handed me something from their “natural” section. I’ve become obsessed with finding obscure bottles and bulk ordering from faraway places, and the more I learn about the process of making these whimsical wines that are more popular than ever, the more I want to drink. (If you’re interested in vegan wine, check out our picks for these here.)

Natural or “low intervention” wine is going through a major moment, and while there is no legal term to define the process, it is fairly straightforward. For a wine to be considered “natural”, winemakers must forgo adding anything to wine in the cellar that does not occur naturally: think preservatives, additives or chemicals. They shouldn’t delete anything either. These wines are even easier to use than most organic options, which require USDA certification indicating they were grown on an organic farm that forgoes the use of certain fertilizers and pesticides. (Basically all natural wines are organic, but not all organic wines are natural. Next?)

This form of local winemaking means there’s a lot more room for bottle-to-bottle variation, making making something new to drink with dinner a lot more unpredictable and fun too. Each wine, even from the same vintage, presents a new opportunity to be surprised by the variation in notes, cloudiness and color. And while I’m not about to waste money on wine just because it’s pretty, a lot of these little winemakers just have some amazing artwork on their labels. So whether you want to show up to Friendsgiving with something funky to satisfy the ‘wine guy’ in your group or impress someone new with a great drink pairing, we’ve rounded up some tasty natural options for every mood.

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1

For a picnic

Orange 2018

Limestone
Discovery wines

$ 25.00

If you’re heading to a dinner party or meeting in the park, this orange option is total crowd pleaser, and for good reason. It is essentially an Italian seaside town in a bottle: its juicy mineral slant comes from the limestone limestone of the Apulian soil and offers a taste of the salty air of the Adriatic Sea.

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2

For outdoor dining

Various Rosato 2018

Lammdia
Primordial Wine

$ 33.95

This blend of Montepulciano, Pecorino and Trebbiano grapes tastes deliciously jammy on the first sip, and then after a while, tilts … dirty. But in the best possible way! A touch of Abruzzo soil balances the red fruit notes, making it ideal to accompany a meat dinner.

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3

For dessert

Correcaminos Road Runner Rose 2019

Correcaminos
Discovery wines

$ 26.00

Even though the heatwaves of summer are over, this Spanish rosé is for sun worshipers who just can’t let the season pass. It’s fruity and tangy, with notes like strawberries and balsamic vinegar that pair perfectly with a melting vanilla ice cream cone.

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4

For a first impression

Babass – Groll N ‘Roll 2019

Babass
Discovery wines

$ 30.00

Socially distant date? This is the bottle to bring. The slightly sparkling red blend is complex and comes down almost too easily thanks to notes like blackcurrant, violet and baking spices. And come on, how cool is this tag?

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5

For a toast

Zurlie Sparkling Natural

Massimago
Mister Wright Fine wines

$ 19.99

A sip of this sparkling pet-nat-a sparkling wine which is bottled earlier in the fermentation process and derives its bubbles from its sugarsand you’ll want to teleport to a decadent night out. It’s a party, in the bottle: light pink, slightly salty and sparkling like hell.

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6

For a date

Beaujolais-Villages 2019

Lapalu
Astor wines

$ 23.96

Gamay grapes make this red elegant, but still easy to drink. Almost anything that comes out of Beaujolais will be well balanced and impressive, and perfectly suited for a long candlelight dinner.

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7

For a light lunch

Weisser Mulatschak White 2019

Meinklang
Kingston wine

$ 18.99

If your trip to Vienna was canceled this year, a juicy orange option from Austria might ease the pain. The blend of Welschriesling, Pinot Gris and Traminer grapes gets its pinkish color on contact with the skin during the fermentation process and tastes like stone fruit in cool weather.

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Jean H. Vannatta

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