If you haven't realized there's even such a thing as clean wines (or, to be honest, a need for one), you're not alone. Wine is just fermented smashed grapes, right? Actually, not so much.
In addition to that, more than 60 chemical materials are often allowed to crash the party—or rather, your vino night with your friends. In a mass-produced bottle, additives (like copper sulfate to diffuse funky scents), chemicals (Velcorin to stave off bacteria), and added sugar are all fair game.
That’s why for nearly a year, the team at Thrive Market—your go-to for certified organic, non-GMO essentials—has collaborated with master sommelier Josh Nadel, beverage director of the Noho Hospitality Group, to create a new standard for wine and scour the globe for the best-in-class bottles. “The result after trying literally hundreds of samples from around the globe is a collection of exceptional wines from innovative, conscientious, small-batch producers,” says Nolan Green, Thrive Market's chief of staff.
Starting this month, you can reap the fruits of their labor: 15 varieties of Clean Wines, sourced from Oregon to France, that meet Thrive Market’s rigorous standards for artisan wine (made with organic, sustainably farmed grapes) delivered straight to your door. The best part? These curated, please-everyone sips are wine-guru approved.
Keep reading to find out why the category of Clean Wines is about to blow up—plus the results of our W+G office taste test.
What actually is Clean Wine?
If you’ve searched beauty aisles high and low for a chemical-free my-lips-but-better lipstick, you can understand the trouble of unearthing cleaner varieties of wine. That’s because like in the realm of clean beauty, there’s no universal definition of clean wine yet.
“The definition of clean wine is a subjective term and a hotly debated subject amongst grape farmers, winemakers, sommeliers, store owners, journalists, and consumers,” says Nadel.
Doubling the difficulty, there’s a huge lack of transparency in commercial winemaking—and wine makers aren't mandated to disclose additives, ingredients, or techniques used in commercial farming.
But with the debut of Thrive Market’s Clean Wines collection, the online grocers are forging a new definition by staking a flag in what it does not include. A bottle of wine sold on Thrive Market defined as “clean” means that grapes are sourced from small, sustainable farms without pesticides, fertilizers, or added sulfates (sulfates are commonly used to hide flaws, which isn't necessary when you use premium grapes). “Dialing down added sulfates preserves color and purity of aroma, flavor, and texture,” Nadel says.
From there, grapes are processed with minimal intervention, which can "preserve the intrinsic qualities of each varietal and the terroir in which it’s grown,” according to Nadel. There’s no added sugar, no flash pasteurization (which kills natural flavors), or additional color or flavor correctors. Just wine.
How the 15 varieties were chosen—and what to expect
After tasting hundreds of wines and vetting small wine producers over months (not to mention managing the logistics of importing hard-to-come-by varieties stateside), Thrive is now offering up the sommelier-vetted bottles straight to your apartment—so naturally, we had to get a taste.
As the wine guru heading Thrive Market’s passion project, Nadel went for a spectrum of body, flavor, and texture. “We look for varietal and regional typicity, balance, deliciousness, and a sense of ‘time and place,’” Nadel says. AKA, a bottle that transports you.
That totally proved true when we popped open two bottles of Thrive Market Clean Wine. One was a crowd-pleasing, fresh white called Tenuta dell’Ugolino, which staffers described as “smooth,” “buttery,” and “balanced.” Others noted top notes of fruit, like citrus or apricot (aren't we cultured?).
The other was a fruity red called Domaine de Roquemaure, which was a crowd favorite. Sipping the bright vino, staffers described this variety as “jammy,” “full bodied,” and “not too sweet.” Others mentioned the “delicious scent" and “mellow aftertaste.” Add to your list of reasons to add to cart, stat.
Click here to shop for your Clean Wines and get an extra 25 percent off your first order (max $20 savings). All discounts will be automatically applied at checkout.
In partnership with Thrive Market
Photos: Thrive Market
Follow master sommelier Josh Nadel on Instagram at @joshuanadel
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