Eat It, Virginia


So what exactly is natural wine? Richmond-based Native Selections has answers.

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Posted at 6:33 AM, Aug 25, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- When it comes to choosing a bottle of wine -- the choices go well beyond a bottle of white or a bottle of red.

Native Selections is a Richmond-based wine distributor that specializes in natural wine.

So what exactly is natural wine?

"There are a lot of definitions out there, which can be frustrating sometimes because there's not a certification that says this is exactly what [natural wine] is," Native Selections founder Shawn Eubank said on the Eat It, Virginia podcast. "Our definition starts with the farming. If you can't get past these certain qualifications with the farming, it's not natural. We need to start with organic farming practices and organic grapes. And then the second part is everything that happens after the grapes are picked."

"A lot of things can happen between when the grapes are picked and when the wine goes into the bottle," Eubank added.

Native Selections

"A natural wine is a wine that is just not fooled around with. It's generally a lot more labor and attention required in the winery," he said. "Wine can go off the rails. Wine can turn into vinegar. Wine can oxidize. Bad things can happen. So [natural wine] does require a lot more attention to cleanliness and to detail and just being on top of everything to really do it right and to get a good product."

Helping Eubank introduce and distribute Native Selections' natural wine portfolio across the region is Richmond restaurant veteran Michael Smith.

Smith, who previously managed Laura Lee's and helped open Common House in Richmond, said his love for all things wine has only grown in his new role.

"You only learn something if you practice it over and over and over again," Smith said. "Now I'm given the opportunity to really focus on tasting things. Previous to working in wine sales, I had managed restaurants and was writing wine lists, but my exposure and education with wine was a personal journey, guided by YouTube, books, but mostly by wire reps. People who are coming to me and teaching. When you're working in a restaurant, you have 1,000 things that you're thinking about at all times and the wine list can only take up so much of your brain and therefore focusing on what you're tasting can only take up so much of your time. And so even though I'd like to have thought that I was dedicating a lot of time to that. Now that I can dedicate all of my time to it, I'm learning so much more."

Listen to this week's Eat It, Virginia to soak up the wine knowledge both Smith and Eubank share.

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