Natural wine is continuing to have its moment and, along with pumpkin spice, is this season’s buzzword. With festivals such as The Real Wine Fair, RAW, Rootstock, and The Big Glou cropping up around the world, the movement celebrating these minimal-intervention, additive-free wines is only gaining momentum. Now, it’s even reached Cincinnati Ohio, where sommelier Daniel Souder of Pleasantry has crafted one of the Midwest’s first all-natural-wine programs.
Natural wine starts with organic or biodynamically grown grapes but is ultimately defined by winemaking practices. Its minimal intervention agenda means no added sulfites, sugar, foreign yeasts, and minimal to no fining or filtration—or, as Souder puts it, “wine that is as close as possible to fermented grape juice…plain and simple. The farming is clean and the winemaking is hands-off.” (Orange wines—which often fall into the natural category—are whites that are macerated on the grape skins for a period of time, giving them more structure and a bronze to orange hue.)
Fall, the harvest season, ushers in change. “Wines for fall should mirror these changes,” Souder says. “The transition should be subtle, but one that keeps your palate alive as summer ends and winter looms. Shift those light and playful whites to ones with more weight, the super bright rosés to more thought-provoking examples, and start to bring out the light and medium-bodied reds with some complexity.”