Morgan Harris: Long Live Natural Wine

Morgan Harris, who writes the wine blog Technically Drinking and works at The Tangled Vine in NYC, offered this contribution to Saignée\’s 32 Days of Natural Wine:

As someone who works in a wine bar, I sell wine on a bottle-by-bottle, glass-by-glass basis, not by the case or by the truckload. Not that there’s anything wrong with wine at that scale; I just mean to suggest that I have a very intimate relationship to the end-consumer in the wine-distribution chain. The wine I sell is appreciated in front of me, and I’m often privy to people’s thoughts and curiosities about wine. Hundreds of members of the general public sit down at my bar every week and drink thousands of (different) glasses of wine.

Sometimes, in all my enthusiasm for wine, I have to remind myself that not everyone’s interested in how many grams residual sugar versus tartaric acid this Mosel Riesling has. I cannot interest people in many things I have to say about wine at more than a surface level. This is fine. I accept this, albeit sadly. Natural wine is the exception to this rule.

For the average consumer, tasting wine is a binary action. Is this delicious or not delicious? They don’t concern themselves with vine age, soil types, lees contact, barrel aging regimens or any of the stuff that us cork dorks get ourselves all in a tizzy about. For most people, wine is an alcoholic beverage that comes in red, white, pink, sparkling, dry, and sweet, and that’s about the level many people are interested. I can say with confidence that in the last two years of working wine bars in food-friendly Manhattan, sustainable, organic, and biodynamic wines are the most consistently interesting facets of wine to the average consumer. I would consider producers in all these categories to be pursuing some platonic ideal of natural wine.

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