There is a movement in winemaking that strives to make “natural wines”. These wines, sometimes called “real wines”, are wines that contain nothing but grape juice. In its purest form no additives whatsoever are added to the juice and the wine often does not contain any SO2. This leads to a wine that is as pure as nature could have intended it, and sometimes quite far from what often is considered ideal.

The wine will have no protection against oxidation, and could sometimes turn brown within hours of opening. The acid might be way too low, which might let other components such as tannin, alcohol and fullness suffer. But the purpose of creating a wine where nothing was added, and the elixir of life being as natural could make it, is achieved. In the fashion world there also seems to be a movement away from perfection, with more normal sized women, with more natural dimensions and figures making a comeback.

“Winemakers” of this natural wine would sometimes let you know that it is even more difficult making natural wine, than normal wine. Fermentations are followed under the microscope, and the timing of picking is very critical. Organic winemakers have been using similar techniques, with mixed success. The Holy Grail seems to be a balance between natural techniques and modern winemaking.

Chris Anderson wrote an article (and lately a book) in Wired magazine in 2004, on the phenomenon known as the “long tail”. Chris postulates that in a market where there is an extreme amount of choice, about 20% of sales will be made out of a very small amount of products, while the other 80% of the total buying power is spread over a huge amount of products. This long tail can be extremely profitable, because it means that there is a market for a very large amount of small products. In a video store about 20% of the rentals will be made out of a very small amount of titles, while the presence of a large assortment of other titles will take care of the rest.

Making natural wine will be somebody’s ticket to success in the long tail.

Louis Nel is the owner and winemaker of Louis wines in South Africa.