Can you get natural wine in a supermarket?

<span>While you can find natural, organic and biodynamic wine at supermarkets, don’t expect to find the range on offer at a specialist independent.</span><span>Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian</span>
While you can find natural, organic and biodynamic wine at supermarkets, don’t expect to find the range on offer at a specialist independent.Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

Can you find natural wine in the supermarket? The answer, as with most things in life, is complicated, and requires 500 words even to begin to explain. When “natural wine” – a loosely defined term referring to wine made without herbicides, pesticides or the use of sulphur – burst into the public consciousness several years ago, it polarised wine drinkers hugely. Those who have drunk the Kool-Aid and become devotees know exactly where to go to procure the stuff, whether that’s by supporting their favourite independent bottle shops or ordering from specialist e-tailers. But what if you’re rushing into Tesco after work and need to pick up something to drink along with your spaghetti hoops and tampons? Or if you don’t live in one of the UK’s main cities (gasp), and have access only to a supermarket for your wines? Is it possible to score a “natty banger” in the wine aisle?

It’s quite difficult to find so-called “zero-zero” wines – natural wine made with absolutely zero additions, such as fining ingredients, commercial yeasts (zero-zero wines use the yeasts already present on the grape), colour-enhancing agents or sulphur (the addition of a little sulphur before bottling helps keep a wine stable as it makes its journey from the winery to the supermarket shelf). Without sulphur, some zero-zero wines can develop faults, but for many that is well worth the risk if the upside is a wine that’s a vibrant, pure expression of terroir. For supermarket buyers, on the other hand, consistency is everything – across regions, across stores, across shelves – so a potentially unstable wine is a big gamble.

Natural wine isn’t a legally defined term, so it’s tricky to track down exactly what is out there. However, it’s worth noting that many wineries that natural wine zealots would brand as traditional have been organic and biodynamic for decades, but just don’t choose to market themselves as “natural winemakers”. So, if it’s the commitment to regenerative viticulture and sustainable farming that appeals to you, there’s actually plenty of that to be found on the supermarket shelves – just don’t expect any particularly funky labels. Look out for the EU organic logo (a green label with a leaf formed of stars, though be aware that many certified “organic” producers still spray their vineyards with copper) or a Demeter certification, which is proof that a winery is certified biodynamic and a safer bet for more rigorous and environmentally friendly practise.

More and more natural wine aficionados are now softening their stance for such producers, and branching out into slightly more traditional wines from classic regions, albeit ones that reflect their values of sustainability and traceability. For me? If it tastes good and hasn’t directly resulted in the death of an endangered species or the end of the world as we know it, I’m into it.

Four supermarket wines that are organic and biodynamic

Ken Forrester Wine The Misfits Cinsault £10 Tesco, 12.5%. Smooth, small-batch South African cinsault fermented with wild yeasts. Farmed without herbicides or pesticides.

Oxney Organic Estate Pinot Rosé 2020 £19.99 Waitrose, 11.5%. This pinot noir rosé is from the largest single-estate organic producer in England.

Riesling Clos Häuserer, Domaine Zind Humbrecht 2018 £32 The Wine Society, 13%. Age-worthy, layered riesling from Alsace. Proof that biodynamic winemaking isn’t a “new fad”.

Morrisons Organic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo £8.75 Morrisons, 12.5%. Vibrant, fruity organic montepulciano from Abruzzo’s largest producer, part-powered by solar energy.

  • Hannah Crosbie is a wine writer and broadcaster. Her book Corker: A Deeply Unserious Wine Book, is published by Ebury Press at £16.99. To order a copy for £14.95, go to Delivery charges may apply