If there is one thing Williamsburg residents are good at, it’s drinking. Not just any booze, mind you, but the good stuff: craft beer, small batch whiskey and now natural wine, courtesy of the Natural Wine Company. The store, located on N 11th Street between Driggs and Roebling, sells only natural wine; that is, wine with no to low sulfites, no chaptalization (the process of adding sugar to increase alcohol content) and the use of grapes that are grown sans herbicides and picked by hand. I recently attended the opening, invited by the gracious oenophile and comedian Jonny Cigar, the man behind underground wine club The Noble Rot.
It was a bustling affair. Culinary madman Michael Cirino of A Razor, A Shiny Knife brought in some tasty sandwiches filled with homemade mortadella while the friendly people behind Williamsburg’s most famous supper club, Whisk and Ladle, prepared some delicious apple (!?) soup. Needless to say, this is a spot for serious food and wine nerds. The crowd looked exactly like you would imagine a crowd at a Williamsburg wine event would look like; think eco-conscious independent boutique rather than grungy thrift store.
Now, there are a lot of people who think natural wines are all a lot of BS, mainly because sulfites are a natural by-product of fermentation and added sulfites, which act as a preservative, have been used in wine-making for a long time. Still, too many sulfites can be a problem for people with asthma and many people believe they contribute to those awful headaches you get after downing a bottle of red wine at home while watching episodes of Battlestar Galactica by yourself.
Anyway, back to the Natural Wine Store. Whether you think natural, biodynamic and organic wines are the bees knees, the fact remains that this store has some pretty awesome wines you won’t find anywhere else. Forget the whole cork vs. screw-top debate; here you can get your wine in motherfuckin’ boxes, like the picnic-ready Yellow and Blue Malbec from Argentina or the From the Tank red from Cotes du Rhone, France. The space is pretty simple, just a white room filled with barrels and paintings from neighborhood artists. Wine geek or not, you’ll probably find something here that you’ve never tried before.