The no hangover wine

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Is it possible that there’s a wine that’s going to leave you without a hangover? Jordan Salcito, wine director at Momofuku, says reach for the natural wines.

Recently, a friend and I met for drinks at Pearl & Ash, the new restaurant on the Bowery known for excellent cuisine and one of the most dynamic wine lists in New York.  We ordered a bottle of Eric Pfifferling’s l’Anglore Tavel rosé.  By the time we’d finished the bottle, neither of us felt the familiar dizzying buzz of too much wine, nor had we consumed even a bite to eat. Later, with dinner, we downed two subsequent bottles of wine, both made in a similar style to Pfifferling’s. The next morning, after comparing notes, both of us woke unscathed. My friend made his early tennis match and played well; I spun strong at my morning spin.

The secret to our hangover free morning? Natural wine.

The initial wine, one of the natural wine movement's most beloved and hard to track-down bottles, is—unlike most wine you drink—made from ripe grapes and not much else. The fruit ferments with native yeasts. Pfifferling, like most natural wine producers, adds no sulfur dioxide aside from minimal amounts when he bottles the wine. Supplementary sugar, nitrogen, tartaric and malic acid, oak essence, mega purple, reverse-osmosis…none of these laboratory-created additions make their way into the vinification process, and the resulting wine tastes clean, pure, and textural.  These are natural wines. Wines like your great-great-grandmother might have drunk.

"Natural wine" is a relatively recent addition to the wine world’s lexicon. The movement began gathering momentum in the early 2000s as a reaction to high-production, mass-produced wines that either sought high scores from influential wine critics (see Robert Parker) or that enabled large and uniform production. In truth, the movement began decades before that. Winemaker and chemist Jules Chauvet, an iconoclast best known for transforming Beaujolais’s soiled reputation, is often credited as spear-heading the movement in France. During the 1970s and early 1980s, he worked closely with winemakers Marcel Lapierre, Jean-Foillard, Guy Breton and Jean-Paul Thevent teaching them how to taste meticulously and to make wines with minimal intervention from non-natural additives and chemicals. Chauvet’s theories were revolutionary at the time. His impact still resonates today.

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