167: Lessons We Can Learn from Europe and Natural Wines

Katie and Heather are back, though not in the Sauna this time, to talk about Katie’s recent trip to Europe and all the lessons we can learn from Europe. They also talk about natural wine and what separates wine from even organic and biodynamic wines. Natural Wines They were both already big fans of Dry Farm Wines (get an extra bottle for just a penny at this link), but after seeing and understanding the process of natural wines, they are now superfans! Here’s why: Katie visited many multi-generation small family vineyards in Italy and saw first hand how these wines are produced. These farmers would be offended to hear their wines just called organic, as in the wine world, “natural” means so much more. This is a stark contrast to the food world, where “natural” is an ambiguous and misused term! For a wine to be considered natural and meet Dry Farm Wines’ criteria, it must: Be from a vineyard that is not irrigated (thus the Dry Farm name). This means that the grapes have less sugar and the finished wine has less alcohol. Use only natural yeast and no commercial yeast. Many wine makers, even organic wine makers, use commercial yeasts in making the wine. This allows them to have a more standardized finished wine. So what’s the problem with this? For one, the natural yeast that occurs on the grapes must be killed first, often with sulfites or other unsavory ingredients. Second, not all of these commercial yeasts are gut friendly. To use natural yeast, the naturally occurring beneficial yeasts and bacteria present on the grapes are cultured to create the yeast used in fermentation. The result is a delicious wine that has thousands of strains of beneficial bacteria and yeast in it. Be low sugar and low alcohol. We pretty much all know why sugar isn’t great for us. But the low-alcohol part seems confusing at first glance. Don’t we want alcohol in our wines? Yes and no. Objectively, alcohol is toxic. Yet regular wine consumption is a commonality of almost every blue zone (places where a large percentage of people live beyond 100 years old). Like anything, too much alcohol can be harmful, certainly, but for those who tolerate it, small amounts, especially combined with the antioxidants and living bacteria can be helpful. Pass lab tests and taste tests. If a wine meets all the basic criteria, it is taste tested (and they are picky!) and then a sample is sent to a lab to be tested for everything from sugar to alcohol content to sulfites and many other factors. While we can all hope for the day that such rigorous standards apply to food, it is great to understand and have found a wine company that takes such care in selecting wines. Things We Can Learn From Europe The other part of this podcast centers on the many lessons Katie learned from her visit to Europe and the things we can learn from the way people there live. She set out to find out why many places in Europe (including Italy, the pasta capital of the world) consistently outrank the US in many health metrics. Katie hoped to find

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