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Why drinking natural wine is worth it

When I lived in Europe I was introduced to natural wine and this changed my palate forever. Although it is a little harder to come by when I am in Canada, the situation seems to be changing. The LCBO magazine Food and Drink published an article in its winter 2018 edition about the top trends in wine, and natural wine was # 2. It also now carries a few organic wines. But does organic necessarily entail natural? What, is the difference and does it matter?

Although there is no board that will certify a wine as ‘natural’, unlike organic or biodynamic wines, I understand natural wine to be altered as little as possible throughout its making process. This means the vines are not  sprayed with pesticides, the grapes are harvested by hand, often in a biodynamic manner, no artificial yeasts  are added, it may be unfiltered and, most of all, little to no sulfites are added. In short, all the additives found in conventional wines are removed so that instead, the ‘natural’ microbiological process of wine making takes place.

This is why most natural wines are also organic and biodynamic, but the reverse may not be true. Unlike natural wine, conventional wine makers add chemical agents, such as sulfur dioxide, to create a uniform product from year to year. These additives are the reason why after drinking a couple of glasses I might get a headache the next day. And most of all, they alter the taste of wine—drastically!

The first time my husband and I brought home a bottle of natural wine  I wondered why it was so fizzy, and why some even taste a little ‘funky’. But with trial and error I learned that to appreciate a natural wine it has to decant for at least an hour—minimum. Countless times I have opened a bottle, tried a few sips, thought it was a bad choice, only to try it a few hours later and discover an amazing new wine. And what a difference in taste! Natural wine really tastes like fruit, and it is not tainted by the vinegary, acerbic taste sulfites bring.

Although natural wine only accounts for 1% of total wine production worldwide, there is a whole array of natural wines that vary in quality, taste, and prices. The bottom line is that the quality of wine does not have to be lesser when drinking natural wine.

 

4 tasty ways to stay hydrated

Was your New Year’s resolution to drink more water? If the answer is yes, you may be hitting your wall. After all, water tends to taste like…well nothing. It’s just a wet liquid that you consume out of necessity. But, it has so many benefits that it’s hard to ignore. It helps with digestion, weight loss, and fatigue — not to mention its actually necessary for your body to function (we are made of 50-60 per cent water after all).

But, how do you get over that darn taste hurdle. How do you make water more bearable? The answer, my dear readers, is the following: infuse it! This is the best health trend of 2017, in my opinion.

Infusion is made of a combination of fruit, vegetables, and herbs in cold water. As the chosen water addition “brews”, it releases nutrients and flavours. There are special infuser water bottles that you can purchase, but it works just as well if you put the add-ons directly in the water.

Still confused? Here are four combinations for infused water that will help you keep your hydration goals:

Cucumbers and Mint: Yes, cucumbers are basically water with a crunch, but they have a distinct refreshing and hydrating taste —just ask all of the spas that include cucumber water as a treat in their lobby. Cucumber also has anti-inflammatory properties so it can help your digestion. Already feeling a bit bloated? Add some mint to your water. It adds a natural sweetness while easing and calming an upset stomach. Not to mention it will make you feel like you are drinking a mojito – minus the alcohol.

Berries and Fruit: There aren’t a lot of medicinal benefits to infusing your water with berries. Sure, there may be a few anti-oxidants released, but not enough to make a difference in your health. However, berries and fruit can add a natural sweetness to your water that you can’t get with vegetables. Fruits like pineapple or cantaloupe will make you feel like you are drinking water on the beach. Just make sure to take off the skins. Have your heart set on berries? Try a mixture of Strawberries and blackberries.

Lemon and Lime: Adding lemon or lime to your water creates a powerful detox effect. It also helps activate your metabolism in the morning if you drink it before breakfast. Try freezing slices of lemons and limes to use as ice cubes. Lay them flat on a cookie sheet and freeze overnight. Then put them in a freezer bag so you can quickly grab them for your water bottle. Just make sure to put a piece of parchment paper underneath so the citrus doesn’t absorb the metallic taste of the cookie sheet.

Herbs and Tea: Not interested in sweet-tasting water? Maybe it’s time to try something a little unconventional — the savoury water. Add a hint of rosemary, basil, or lemongrass into your water for a unique taste. These herbs don’t have a lot of nutritional value, but they can be a nice refreshing change from the citrus water you get at health stores. If you want to get really fancy, combine a herb with your lemon or fruit water. Rosemary goes well with lemon and basil adds another level of flavour when combined with berries.

Do you infuse your water? Tell us what you use in the comments below!