Frequently asked questions
Everything you always wanted to know about natural wines and were not afraid to ask
Natural or low intervention wine is a term applied to wines made with organically or biodynamically farmed grapes and minimal intervention in the cellar.
While there is no certification for natural wine, there are some pretty strict principles:
- artisanal winemaking techniques
- organically or biodynamically farmed grapes
- indigenous or wild yeasts
- no added flavor enhancers
- limited fining and filtration (to preserve flavor)
- little or no sulfites added during either production or bottling
Because of all this, some natural wines can taste very different.
They can be cloudy, with a fuller, juicier mouthfeel. They can be less predictable and can present aromas and tasting notes that may seem intense or strange at first. We feel they can have a lot more depth and character than most conventionally made wines.
The quickest answer is: organics is a set of environmentally-friendly rules, biodynamics is an environmental philosophy.
Organic winemaking avoids chemical fertilizers and pesticides on the farm. Instead, organic farmers use mild, naturally occurring pesticides, and may introduce certain plants to the vineyard in order to improve soil quality and attract the natural predators of vineyard pests. The same logic applies to processing the grapes in the cellar: natural yeasts are preferred, sulfur addition is limited.
At the same time, some organic standards do permit the use of certain chemicals, as well as non-native yeast, fining agents, sterile filtration, pasteurization, and sulfites.
So, if you’re fussy – check the standards of the country that certified a wine as organic before deciding whether you want it.
Biodynamic winemaking is very similar to organic in terms of the boxes it ticks in the vineyard and in the cellar. But it is more than a set of practical rules – it’s an entire philosophy.
Biodynamics strives to create wine in sync with the natural rhythms. The land is seen as an integral part of our planet and solar system. The vineyard – as a living organism. The perfect bio farm is a self-sustaining system with minimal external input, where plants, insects, and animals coexist and play their part in the health of the soil and grapes. Objects are reused and recycled.
What’s more, biodynamics considers factors such as the lunar calendar, astrology, the elements and plain simple good vibes, applying them to everything – from planting, picking, watering and pruning to all the steps of cellar processing.
Just like organic certification, bio certification criteria can vary. Many producers that do actually practice biodynamics are not certified.
There is no special mark or certification that natural wine producers can put on their bottles to inform customers. But they will leave clues! If you want to determine whether a bottle contains natural wine, looking for organic and biodynamic certifications is a good start – they often go hand in hand with natural viticulture. Next, look for phrases like “low / minimal intervention”, “natural winemaking techniques”, “unfined / unfiltered” and “zero / minimal sulfur”. Packaging can also serve as a signal. After all, all movements have their style. The crown cap is often used by natural wine producers, as well as bold, artistic or unusual label design.
Then again don’t rely on style alone. Anyone can slap a bright label on a bottle, it’s the stuff inside that matters. The certs aren’t a must either – many natural winemakers who do practice organics or biodynamics choose not to certify.
Wine is fermented grape juice. In that sense, all wines are natural. However, the amount of intervention is key. Mass production of wine today has gone far beyond the traditional process, inventing many ways to make wine ‘less natural’.
Vineyards have the option to use heavy and potentially toxic chemicals to kill weeds and insects and enhance soil fertility, use machines to harvest and process grapes, add fining agents (such as gelatin, egg white, milk protein, bentonite and others). They can apply filtering that often takes away much of the original flavor. They can chuck in large amounts of preservatives called sulfites.
The fewer additions are made, the more natural we consider a wine.
The principles of biodynamic agriculture were proposed by Rudolf Steiner in 1924. Today, there are two official certifying bodies, Biodevin and Demeter, that certify candidates based on Steiner’s original principles.
- Soil and plant health is improved using only substances derived from plants, animals and minerals
- Agricultural and cellar processes must be in harmony with the natural cycle / lunar calendar
- Spiritual approach to nature and creativity
The maximum permitted sulfite content for certified biodynamic wines is 70 mg/l for red wines, 90 mg/l for whites and rosés and 60 mg/l for sparkling wines.
In the EU, biodynamic wine labels must also be organic and display the EU organic logo.
There are many reasons, but mainly – because it’s different.
Since the late 80s, environmentalism has been on the rise and the wine industry reacted – first, with the organic movement, then the biodynamic boom. The latest breakthrough in sustainable, clean winemaking is natural viticulture, which goes even further than its forebearers, completely rethinking “what is normal”, and bringing a fresh new aesthetic.
Here’s a breakdown of why people get so excited:
Natural winemakers, armed with nothing but passion and artisan skill, are able to skip nearly all of the modern cheat-codes, and still make great tasting products.
Their work gives us the chance to think outside the box, try exciting flavors, taste rare local varieties, experience traditional winemaking, and, for a change, spend our money on small-scale nature-friendly production.
Natural wine reminds us that wine is an ancient drink that tasted differently in different places and time periods. So there’s no reason to limit yourself to conventional standards and be snobbish about it.
The natural movement is known for its flair for experiments and disregard for clichés.
When buying from us, you can taste new flavors and textures, experience truly artisanal winemaking, consume a 100% responsibly sourced and made product, participate in local economies by supporting small-scale producers and taste rare wine varieties that hardly ever grace the shelves of major wine retailers.
No conventional wine store can guarantee this kind of experience.
Because they take a lot more time and effort to produce.
Mass wine production uses chemical and mechanical aids to make more wine quicker and at a lower cost. It can still produce quality wine, but for reasons ranging from ethics and environmentalism to economic theory and aesthetics – many producers and consumers choose a different path.
Natural wineries are small local enterprises. Things are done by hand at every step of the way, with fewer chemical aids, leading to a far more time-consuming process. Fewer preservatives result in more demanding transportation and storage conditions.
The extra that you pay for a bottle of natural wine goes to support those who choose to make sustainable, hand-made products despite all odds.
Wine sediment is made up of organic particles from grape skins, seeds and stems, as well as bits of spent yeast. It is completely natural in all wines. As low intervention wines do not undergo heavy filtration, clarification or fining, some of this sediment remains.
Natural wines are often made with longer skin contact, which also influences the color of the drink.
Unlike mass produced industrial wine, natural wines have little or no preservatives (sulfur dioxide). This creates more risk during transportation and storage. Natural wines need to be handled with care, and kept at appropriate temperatures, away from sunlight.
We take storage very seriously, and all our wines are ready to be consumed. If you want a wine for keeping rather than immediate consumption, you may need to think about special storage conditions.
It is not. The natural wine culture has developed its signature style and does market itself accordingly. But behind the label and bottle design are small producers who invested hours of hard work and passion into their wine. If you’re curious, many natural winemakers provide tech sheets for their wines, so you can see how the stuff is made.
We hand pick our producers and taste everything we sell, so you can be sure that what you buy here is a genuine artisanal product, not just pretty wrapping.
Sediment is natural and absolutely harmless. It does not mean the wine is of lower quality and does not influence the flavor in any way. It won’t affect the aging of the wine. If you like your wine less cloudy, let the sediment settle well before pouring!
If conventional wine is something you have already tried a thousand times, and you know only too well what to expect from that bunch of nice normal wines available in your country – then we’d say there’s your answer.
Not all natural wines are weird. That’s a myth created by people who can’t stand it when someone tries to be different. Our collection has an entire range of natural wines that offer a refreshing experience without being too much.
We’ve got you covered! Take a look at our Natural wines 101 pack, designed specifically to serve as an intro to the world of natural wine. If you don’t want the whole pack – the same bottles can be purchased separately. Just see what’s inside the pack and pick a bottle to your liking. We also have filters and categories to help navigate the shop, so have a browse, read the descriptions, listen to your heart and GET TASTING! We’ve got something for everyone.
Some natural wines are released young and are intended for immediate consumption. This is because they come from small wineries where storage space is scarce and because they are preservative-free.
However, we stock plenty of natural wines that will age wonderfully and can be consumed several years after bottling. Hit us up directly if you’re looking for a bottle that will keep well.
Pét-nat is a sparkling wine made like in the olden days. The word itself comes from “pétillant naturel”, which is French for “naturally sparkling”. Pét-nat uses an age-old technology called the ‘ancestral method’, where the wine is bottled while primary fermentation is still underway, without adding any extra yeast or sugar. As fermentation completes, the yeasts munch on the remaining fruit sugar and produce carbon dioxide, so natural bubbles get created right inside the bottle. Pét-nats are released young and often have a wilder, less predictable character.
This type of sparkling is associated with the natural wine movement. A pét-nat is usually organic or biodynamic, can be unfiltered and cloudy, and will often look very different from its gentle cousin, champagne.
Champagne is both an appellation and a winemaking method. All wines that are referred to as ‘champagne’ must come from the respective region of France and use this method of wine processing.
The champagne method involves a step called prise de mousse, or ‘foam creation’, also known as secondary fermentation. First, primary fermentation creates a still wine, then secondary fermentation adds the sparkle. The fizz is kick-started with the addition of a sugary mixture called liqueur de tirage, which produces carbonic gas as it breaks down, giving champagne its bubbles. When a champagne is referred to as natural, low-intervention or bio, that usually implies making a natural wine before adding the bubbles as well as using indigenous yeasts for the second fermentation.
Unlike pét-nats, classic champagne requires several years of aging. Their style of packaging often differs too. Champagne fancies large corks, while pét-nats get crowned with a modest metal cork, same as for beer or cider.
The natural wine movement has an entirely different set of values and developed its own style and imagery in a completely different direction. Their labels are the result of a total rethink of what is important in wine.
Conventional wine labels usually follow the same design standard. You know, pictures of castles, coats of arms, rolling hills, fancy fonts, “since the year so and so”, etc. They are commissioned once, reprinted a million times, and aren’t intended to be eye-pleasing or inspiring.
Natural wine labels are personal and intended to convey the idea, feeling and vibe of the wine. Quite often, they are made by local artists or people close to the winery. Many producers will tell you where the label idea came from and who made it.
Wines will usually have these recommendations printed on the label.
In general and unless otherwise stated, serve sparkling wines well-chilled at 6-8°C, and whites at 12°C. The best temperature for orange wines and rosés is 12-14°C, and 16°C is the best practice for reds.
Many wines have a naturally-occurring sediment, so let the bottle stand for a while before serving to let everything settle.
Champagnes and some pét-nat bottles have internal pressure, so open with caution, do not shake, hold the bottle at a 45° angle and do not point it at people, animals and valuable objects!
We have a range of gift boxes for different occasions that come in bright festive wrapping. You’ll find everything you need to know on deliveries in Delivery Info, and if necessary, we can suggest delivery options to suit your particular needs. We also have gift cards.
We’re always happy to assist you with selecting a wine. To get help on choosing a gift, please call us at 20609996 and we’ll fill you in on great natural versions of your preferred kind of wine.
Mystery Bottles is a blind tasting experience. We offer you a range of 12 secret wines to select from. All you can see is whether they are red or white and what price range they fall into. You can pick any number of wines.
Once you’ve made your blind choice, we assemble your order and wrap the wines for you so that they all look the same, and put numbers on the wrapping. That’s it! You taste, enjoy and have fun trying to figure out what you’re drinking.
Mystery Bottles aren’t for connoisseurs. They’re for everyone. The idea is to taste and explore a wine without being distracted by brand names and labels.
Mystery Bottles are perfect for dinners, parties, get-togethers or however you like to use them. They’ll also make a great present!
Our store in Riga
We’re open Monday to Friday 10:00-19:00. On Saturday and Sunday, we may be open on request (just call us if you want to visit us or place an order over the weekend – we may be available!)
It’s your call! You can do either.
Glad you asked! You’ll find all the details in the Events section. Don’t forget to follow us on social media too, or drop by to have a chat and find out what’s on.
Orders and issues
There’s always something going on at Lowine. Whenever we have specials, discounts, or events, you’ll know.
You can contact us by phone +371 20609996
Please let us know by calling +371 20609996.
Our standard delivery rate is 6 euro.
For any questions on deliveries beyond our standard conditions, please call +371 20609996 and we’ll work to find the best solution for your requirements.
No. We work with a delivery service and deliver at their standard rates.
We’ve got you covered! Insurance against any damage in transit is included in all deliveries at no extra cost.
If you have received a damaged item, please take a picture and send it to [email protected]. We will fix the issue as soon as possible by exchanging your item for a new one or issuing a refund.
If you order before 3pm today, you’ll get the order the next day before noon. If you wish to specify a delivery time, please let us know in the Order Notes field at checkout.
For orders across Latvia, we recommend placing the order 2 business days before your preferred delivery date.
We work with Venipak delivery service, and these guys know how to handle peak times and minimize the risk of delays. If there are any delays, we’ll let you know by email.
We currently deliver our wines throughout the Baltics. However, we do have plans to expand our deliveries to all of Europe. It all depends on how popular deliveries to Europe turn out to be!
Payment, Returns and Refunds
You can pay for your order online by card. We accept Mastercard or Visa Debit online. You can also pay for your order at our physical location at Martas 9-38, Riga by card or cash.
We can also issue you an invoice for advance payment if you need one.
14 days from the time you placed your order.
Got more questions?
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