How to speak modern wine - The wine terms you need to know in an era of natural wine
Wine culture is shifting at a tremendous pace. Us young wine lovers are changing how wine is drunk, how we think about it, how we talk about it, and what part it plays in our lives. We have eschewed luxe wine collections from a select few wineries in pursuit of new experiences from around the world. Wine is a part of who we are, and if you want to get with the times you are going to have to learn the lingo of this new era in wine.
A natural wine is a wine that is made with minimal to no chemical, biological, or mechanical intervention. This is a wine that lets its freak flag fly, and as a result becomes a true expression of the terroir and the winemaker. Natural wines are a rejection of the industrialized wine business in favor of crafted, honest, artistic, and delicious experiences. Natural wine can also be a gateway into more esoteric concepts like biodynamic wines, but we will save that for later.
Native yeast and natural fermentation
A wine cannot be natural unless it uses native yeast, which is the yeast that grows on the grapes as they ripen. When the grapes are pressed these native yeasts will start to eat the sugars in the juice and produce alcohol, hence resulting in a natural fermentation. Easy, right?
Unfined and unfiltered
Unfined and unfiltered wines, as the name suggests, are wines that do not go through the process of fining and filtering. It is a mark of most natural wines, especially red wines, to remain unfined and unfiltered. These wines are cloudy and have a bit of sediment in them, but it adds to their delicious and delightful character.
Whole cluster means that a wine has been fermented stems and all. Using whole clusters of grapes in the fermentation process adds characters to the wine that the berries may not have on their own, like tannin structure and savory flavors. Using whole clusters can also ramp up the wine to eleven by bringing some of the more subtle flavors to the forefront. This is a tool for winemakers to create their ideal wine, like adding black or white to the paint to create the shade you desire.
The one word you need to describe just how much you like the wine and for every reason that you do, glou glou is how to tell everybody that a wine is awesome. In short glou glou means the wine is drinkable and interesting, it makes us incredibly happy, and we just want to keep drinking more and more of it.
Vin de soif
A French term meaning "a wine of thirst" any Vin de soif is a wine that should just be enjoyed and not fussed over. Vin de soif wines, as they suggest, are made to quench your thirst and will more often than not have lighter bodies, and lower alcohol levels. A Vin de soif might often be described as being glou glou.
Pet-Nat (or Pettillant Naturel, Methode Ancestral)
Modern wine drinkers and hipster winos are falling in love with Pet-Nat, so its time to learn what all the fuss is about. The awesome thing about Pet-Nat, or methode ancestral wines, is that there is no fuss. These are light-hearted sparkling wines with a gentle fizz. They are made using the "methode ancenstral" of making sparkling wine where the wine is bottled before fermentation if complete. With the final moments of the fermentation process taking place inside the bottle, the carbon dioxide that is a byproduct of the process has nowhere to go, thus creating a refreshing fizz. The wines are also lighter and a little more tart than your traditional sparkling wines. With the surge in popularity of these crushable wines, winemakers are trying their hands at making Pet-Nat's using everything from Muscadet to Chardonnay, to Cabernet Sauvignon. Needless to say, there is a fucking awesome Pet-Nat out there for everyone!
Orange wine (or skin contact white wine)
Orange wine is the ultimate in wine hipster tastes and lingo. These obscure wines take an ancient method of making white wines in the same way that you would make a red wine, by letting the juice macerate and ferment on the skins. This results in the wines picking up a golden, rusty, or copper toned hue that mesmerizes and dazzles. You also pick up a few tannins and savory flavors like peppers that you otherwise would not get in a white wine. Orange wines are wild and funky, and that is why we love them.
So now you know how to speak modern wino. You know your soif from your glou, your natural, native, and whole, and you know what makes those cloudy, opaque wines oh so delicious.