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Wine for Dummies
Illustration: Ali Mac

Here are the trending wine terms you should probably know

We’re here to help decode the trending wine buzzwords you've been reading lately on NYC wine lists

By Alyson Penn

Wine got weird on us. We spoke with Kristie Petrullo, founder of Petrullo Wine Company and former head sommelier at Jean-Georges to help us decode these terms you've been hearing through the grapevine.

Think of this as the umbrella term for a winemaker using zero to minimal intervention or manipulation in the vines and in the winery. That means no pesticides, chemicals or additives like sugar or cultivated yeast. But Petrullo explains one caveat: “There is no legal classification or certification” for a wine to be considered natural.

Why you order it: You take your wines as they are.

Organic wine means no pesticides and chemicals were used in the vineyard, but there may be additives or manipulation in the winery. According to Petrullo, the process to become certified organic is crazy expensive, so a  lot of small vineyards unofficially follow these rules.

Why you order it: Healthy vines make healthy wines.

Think of it as organic but turned several notches up. It’s essentially a theory by philosopher Rudolf Steiner that promotes biodiversity to the fullest, meaning that the soil, trees, bugs, etc., are all equally important to creating the healthiest vino from the surrounding environment. Some biodynamic practices include using your own compost, prepping with herbal spray and growing grapes by the lunar calendar.

Why you order it: You believe Mercury is in retrograde.

Even though wine is,well, wine, animal by-products are usually involved. For the fining process (adding a substance to the wine to remove basic particles), the winemaker uses bentonite (a type of clay), charcoal or any nonanimal product instead of egg whites or gelatin.

Why you order it: Duh.

Think of this as the hippie younger sibling of champagne. The juice is bottled before the first fermentation finishes, with no yeasts or sugars added. Pét-nat (short for pétillant-naturel) has a light bubble with a nuttier and richer mouthfeel, and it may have a bit of a hazy color.

Why you order it: You’re bored with champagne but still want the fizz.

Orange is a type of natural wine made from white grapes. The seeds and skin are crushed with the grapes and retained during fermentation, creating the darker color and a slightly dry, citrus or sourdough taste.

Why you order it: You don’t see the world in red and white.

If you’re not a purist when it comes to vino, blue wine from the Spanish company Gïk might just be your poison. The team behind the nontraditional wine wanted to mix things up “for fun” with a blend of red and white grapes. The skin of red grapes and indigotin (indigo dye) gives the drink a deep blue hue. And though the sweet, fruity wine is not available in New York City yet, it’s scheduled to arrive later this year.

Why you order it: Instagram.

Now put your new-found knowledge to good use!


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