Natural Wine and Seedlip Are the Trick to Drinking Clean(er)

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In our Winter issue, FASHION editors rounded up the 100 people, products and experiences we think will blow up in 2019. It’s our inaugural Hot 100 Fuse List. From the workouts you’ll be doing, to the new designers and artists you’ll see on your feed, this is your guide to being in the know this year. You’ve already started cleaning up the food you put into your body and the products you put on it, but it’s time to start thinking about everything you consume. Whether you’re just trying to drink natural or cut out alcohol all together, here’s what you should be drinking at your next party.

Photography by Jenna Marie Wakani

As the food industry at large inches toward a cleaner, less-pesticide-ridden world, so, too, does the oenophile community. For a few years, natural wine—loosely, wine made without additives, chemicals or intervention during the fermentation process—has been on the uptick everywhere delicious things proliferate, and the proof is in the pinot. From Montreal’s Mon Lapin to Vancouver’s Grapes & Soda to Toronto’s Grey Gardens, Canadians have more options than ever.

Producers like Ontario’s Pearl Morissette and Quebec’s Vignoble Les Pervenches are showing up on more and more wine lists across the country, with offerings ranging from the savoury, smoky and downright weird to the elegant and refined.

“After 10 years of working as sommeliers and wine buyers, we were tired of our smart and conscientious friends paying attention to the food they ate and the clothes they bought while drinking the equivalent of fast-food wine.”

Call it the universe balancing itself out after decades of quantity-over-quality wines and mass-marketed grape varietals dominating the industry, but wine enthusiasts and dabblers alike are waking up to appreciate smaller producers and beyond-the-citrus-and-oak flavour profiles.

“After 10 years of working as sommeliers and wine buyers, we were tired of our smart and conscientious friends paying attention to the food they ate and the clothes they bought while drinking the equivalent of fast-food wine,” says Krysta Oben. Oben and Nicole Campbell are the duo behind Grape Witches, organizers of bicoastal wine-swilling events that are educational and convivial. “These wines make the world feel like a global village,” says Campbell. “Plus, they tend to be really freaking delicious.” –Ashley Joseph

Photography by Jenalle Los

If you’re new to natural wine, the Grape Witches have some tips for you:

Try a grape you can’t pronounce.

Do not be afraid! Often, these complicated-sounding grapes offer incredible flavours and value. If you like Sauvignon Blanc, try an Assyrtiko. If you like Gamay, try a Mencia.

Go for a region you don’t know.

Regions that are the most popular are also ones that have historically been powerful and rich. Countries like Croatia, Slovakia, Georgia and Greece are making wonderful wines worth discovering.

You can do better with a bubbly.

Pét-nat (or pétillant-naturel) is the ancient way of fermenting a sparkling wine in-bottle naturally, trapping its CO2. It’s a top trend, especially when paired with spicy food. If you are buying Champagne, buy a brand you do not know. The big brands spend a lot of money on advertising and less in the vineyard.

Photography courtesy of Seedlip

Cutting back on one’s alcohol consumption is slowly becoming the norm. Only problem: So many of our social activities are structured around drinking. Sure, a mocktail is always an option, but it’s usually an afterthought, tucked away on most menus, and filled with more sugar than a bottle of SunnyD. A sophisticated, decent alternative to alcohol has been missing from the market. Until Seedlip.

Purportedly “the world’s first non-alcoholic distilled spirit,” it’s sweetener- and sugar-free, goes well with tonic or soda water and comes in three flavours: Spice 94, with hints of allspice, bark and citrus; Garden 108, with notes of peas, hay and garden herbs; and Grove 42, a blend of orange, lemon grass and ginger. “We’re in this world where we can cater to any allergies you’ve got, we can put people on the moon, we can do all these amazing things,” Ben Branson, Seedlip’s founder, recently told Fast Company. “But for whatever reason, why can you not get a good grown-up non-alcoholic option?” Well, now you can. –Pahull Bains

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