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Look for plenty of delicious, funky bottles, like Weingut Brand’s 2016 Pet Nat Rosé, at All Together Now.

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Natural Selection

By Ariel Cheung

Photo by Carolina Mariana Rodriguez

04.08.19

Dive into the world of natural wine with the help of three local shops and their knowledgable owners.

Ask three experts to define what natural wine is, and you’ll end up with three different definitions. To purists, “you crush the grapes, let the juice ferment, and bottle it, with absolutely no intervention whatsoever,” says Adam Kamin, who opened Off Premise (1128 W. Armitage Ave.), his wine-and-whiskey offshoot of The Delta last summer. Others allow for the addition of sulfur dioxide, which eliminates what Kamin describes as a certain “mousiness.” But in general, the rule of thumb is hands-off, as much as possible. The results speak for themselves, ranging from crisp and clean to “superfunky and weird,” says Erin Carlman Weber, co-owner of newly opened multipurpose shop All Together Now (formerly Brothers & Sisters, 2119 W. Chicago Ave.). “And I think it’s the funky, weird stuff that draws the new folks to this category.” The natural wine philosophy also allows winemakers to break free of what Carlman Weber refers to as “varietal correctness,” testing out unconventional places and processes to draw out unique flavor profiles. “It’s a freeing concept,” she says. Her current favorite is the Château de Béru Athénaïs chablis ($55), which she says boasts a “laser-focused acidity and light touch of stone fruit,” while Kamin’s love for small-batch rosés and reds has him pointing to the dusky Martha Stoumen Post Flirtation ($25). Take note, because natural wines are catching on fast; at Red & White (1861 N. Milwaukee Ave.), inquiries have skyrocketed, says co-owner Cubby Dimling. “Once you try it,” Dimling says, “you don’t want to drink anything else.”