What: “Natural wines are produced in a minimalistic method,” says Tunstall. “The makers often leave out sulfites (which preserve the wine) completely, or they just add a small amount at the end of the fermentation process.” It’s this lack of sulfites that gives natural wines special characters: new flavor profiles caused by bacteria. “In many elite wine circles, these aromas are considered flaws,” he says. “But they’re bright, fresh, and very drinkable.”
Where: The movement began in Paris about 20 years ago, notes Tunstall. And while the bottles have a big following in large metropolitan areas like New York City and San Francisco, only a handful of distributors are bringing them to South Carolina. Here are a few spots in Charleston:
Stems & Skins (1070 East Montague Ave., North Charleston; www.stemsandskins.com) Tunstall recommends Vigneti Massa “Derthona” (2012), from Colli Tortonesi, Italy ($30), with tasting notes of stone fruit, honey, and yellow flowers, he says. “It’s a sturdy white that pairs well with a chicken or pork entrée.”
Forty-Eight—A Wine Bar (547 Freshfields Dr., John’s Island; fortyeightwinebar.com) Manager Matt Williams loves Tikal’s “Natural” Malbec, 2013, from Argentina ($25). “Malbecs are fruity and intense—perfect for when chilly weather sets in,” Williams says. “This bottle blends in a Syrah, which adds complementary blackberry, pepper, and tobacco flavors.”
FIG (232 Meeting St., eatatfig.com) “Since natural wines pair well with our menu’s responsibly farmed ingredients, we often have them on our list,” says general manager Morgan Calcote. For cooler nights—and to pair with red meat or pork—she recommends Bloomer Creek Vineyard’s “White Horse Red,” a 2012 Bordeaux blend from New York’s Finger Lake region ($60).