Natural wine as a term is gnarly to wrangle with, but think of it as a philosophy towards embracing serendipity and making wines that are better for vinophiles and better for Mother Earth. The overarching principles are about using sustainable (perhaps even organic or biodynamic) viticulture methods and taking a minimal intervention (no adding of sugars and preservatives, no filtration) approach to wine-making.
There are tangible benefits to the casual drinker too: natural wines tend to be juicier and lower in ABV (read: sessionable), and there's always an element of surprise because natural vinos are less predictable...which in turn levels the playing field between amateurs and connoisseurs. Game to give them a try? These are the spots around town to hit.
Drunken Farmer has ditched the nomadic lifestyle for permanent digs on Stanley Street. At 6 o'clock from Tuesdays to Saturdays, café Common Man Stan transforms into a cosy space for diners to enjoy a sourdough-focused menu and, of course, more than 80 natural, organic biodynamic and sustainability-farmed labels. These wines are sourced directly from winemakers in France, Italy, Chile and Spain, spanning the gamut of white, red, sparkling and rosé wines. Wine curator Eduardo Bayo and founder and director of Spa Esprit Group Cynthia Chua have personally visited these vineyards and worked closely with winemakers to bring this carefully curated selection to Drunken Farmer, and have plans to double their offerings in the coming months. Try a bottle at their new home on Stanley Street alongside tasty sourdough pizzas and other 'minimal intervention' dishes, or shop around on their online store at drunkenfarmer.sg.
The OG behind Singapore's natural wine movement, RVLT (say ‘revolution’) is a full-fledged gastrobar with laidback vibes and a trippin’ playlist. To get your bearings, head to the shelves to browse its collection of some 150 wines (from $78). Alternatively, keep it non-committal with the by-the-glass (from $16) programme that’s updated daily. There’s usually a white and a red, and if you’re lucky, an orange (white grapes fermented skin-on) or a pét-nat (a category of unfiltered sparkling wines). Look out also for #TastingTuesday announcements on social media: each week, RVLT offers a thematic flight of three to five vinos – for example wines fermented in terracotta vessels – at wallet-friendly prices. (Psst. There’s a $15 discount on take-home bottles too.)
With a name inspired by Latin word ‘curare’ – meaning ‘to take care of’ – it should come as no surprise that this seasonally minded modern-European restaurant takes pains to source from boutique wineries that follow sustainable farming techniques and a minimal intervention ethos. Of the 85-item wine list, a good third of them are natural, certified organic or biodynamic. Though there isn’t a full-fledged natural wine pairing option, Cure does offer four natural wines by the glass. And for diners with palates accustomed to the juicier, zippier flavour-leanings of natural wines, there’s another intriguing alternative – a kombucha pairing option that presents house-made ferments such as charred corn with kaffir lime, and allspice with apple.
Terroir Bar is not your typical wine bar. For one, you can’t waltz in whenever, because there are no fixed operating hours. Instead, Terroir operates on a pop-up basis (mainly weekends), announced via social media. Reservations are highly recommended too – the bar counter at Hashida Sushi, where Terroir runs, has just six seats. Though natural wines are not the explicit focus, engineer-turned-winemaker Tan Meng Teck, who hosts the sessions, favours boutique wineries with sustainable farming and minimal intervention practices. Wines are available by the bottle and glass, but Terroir’s emphasis is on tasting flights. Priced from $50, the flights offer deep dives structured by grape varietal, region, winemaker or vintage.
Bar Cicheti’s main claim to fame may be its pasta but the wine bar side of things deserves equal attention too. As evident from the line-up of quirkily illustrated bottles that flank the space, sommelier-partner Ronald Kamiyama has quite the penchant for vinos from the left field. Head down in the evenings from Mondays to Thursdays for a tasting flight ($28 for three glasses). There’s no standard menu; instead Kamiyama fixes you up with different wines each time, perhaps an effervescent flight that contrasts various methods of making bubbly, or another that seeks to upend expectations of grape varietals.