Behind the Biggest Split in the Wine Industry in a Generation

"Natural wine" advocates dismiss modern methods as ethically and ecologically flawed.

Behind the biggest split the wine world has seen in generations. (Getty Images)
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The natural wine movement—which uses no pesticides, chemicals or preservatives in its process—has triggered the biggest schism in the wine world in a generation. Natural wine has become more popular over the years. One recent study found 38 percent of wine lists in London now feature at least one organic, biodynamic or natural wine, which is three times more than in 2016, reports The Guardian. 

But the movement also has its detractors. Some oenophiles hate the taste of natural wine. A critic for The Spectator likened it to “flawed cider or rotten sherry” and the Observer compared the taste to “an acrid, grim burst of acid that makes you want to cry.” Others say that the movement is intent on tearing down the norms and hierarchies that traditionalists have spent years building. Robert Parker, perhaps the world’s most powerful wine critic, has said that natural wine is an “undefined scam.” Michel Bettane, one of France’s most influential wine critics, told The Guardian that natural wine exists because it proclaims itself to. “It is a fantasy of marginal producers,” he said.

Natural wine enthusiasts, meanwhile, claim that the modern wine industry is ethically, ecologically and aesthetically flawed. And now that they have a foothold in the mainstream, they are not planning on giving any ground.

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