14-01-2016

Ronan Sayburn on “natural” wine

Often people ask, “What’s the difference between a Master Sommelier and a Master of Wine?” Well, one certification is about expert wine service and the other about expert wine studies. They both need to know oodles about wine but it is admittedly the case that Masters of Wine will write better than Master Sommeliers as the MW communicates in text and the MS in person. There are however exceptions to this rule.

I had the great pleasure to sit my initial CMS Level 1 exams with two great Master Sommeliers and one great Master Sommelier lecturer which was Ronan Sayburn. He’s damned witty, charismatic, and does that one thing that’s so difficult with wine: make it fun. Recently I was pointed to an article he wrote on the Guild of Sommeliers about “natural” wine. The whole bit is a great read, but it’s this part that was just genius:

Finally, an analogy with chickens.

  1. Go to Whole Foods and buy the very best chicken they have. It will be corn-fed, free-range and it will taste great. This is organic wine.
  2. Search out a local butcher, the best you can find, and buy his most expensive chicken. It will be corn-fed, free-range, and coming from a small farm—the feet and head are still attached. It tastes fantastic. This is biodynamic wine.
  3. Raise your own chicken, kill it, pluck it and eviscerate it. Then spit-roast it on an open fire. If you have some chicken skills it will taste amazing. If not you risk salmonella, chewing on feathers and your friends thinking you are bonkers. But you won’t care and will still insist it’s the best chicken ever. This is natural wine.