Neil McGuigan dismisses natural wine as ‘grape-based beverage’

By James Wells, TheShout

Four-time international winemaker of the year, Neil McGuigan, has delivered a brutal criticism of the natural wine category describing it as a “grape-based alcoholic beverage”.

Speaking with TheShout at ProWein in Düsseldorf, McGuigan was asked for his opinion on natural or orange wine which is wine made with minimal or no chemical or technical intervention and generally minimal or no sulphites for preservation which can attract a unique or funky bouquet when smelling the wine.

“I am actually in the wine industry – that natural or orange wine is a grape-based alcoholic beverage – it’s not really wine. We can turn people off wine – that is the issue and that is the risk and as a result – I am sorry – I cannot support it at all,” he said.

When asked about targeting wine specifically to millennials, McGuigan was equally evocative.

“I don’t recognise millennials as a trend – any wine company has got to continue to evolve and also we have to be sustainable. We have embraced all of the things you have to do to become a contemporary wine business – new wine styles, new varieties in the ground, solar panels and all of the technology like wide bore crossflows and discharge centrifuge that you must continue to embrace and continue to evolve your wine styles.”

McGuigan had some advice for wine companies looking to embrace ‘millennial’ consumers by creating fancy packaging and sub-standard wine: “You’ll sell your first bottle, but you won’t sell your second. By all means, innovate with wine styles and packaging – but don’t forget the basics – you still have to make those basic varieties better this year than you did last year.”

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