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A drink with… Sunny Hodge

London wine bar and shop Diogenes the Dog was named Newcomer of the Year at the Decanter Retailer Awards last year. Now its founder, Sunny Hodge, is on a mission to demystify natural wine at a new venue, Aspen & Meursault, in Battersea.

‘I don’t like using the term “natural wine” and prefer to talk about “low-intervention” wines instead. What is natural wine, after all? There’s no legal definition. And so unsurprisingly there’s a lot of confusion. The UK is now a wine-producing region, but we don’t yet have the culture that goes with that. Consumer knowledge of wine as a whole is still very low, let alone of natural wine. Even some natural wine bar owners themselves don’t understand the subject properly.

‘We’re focusing on wines made using organic or biodynamic fruit – though they may not be certified as such – and that follow a minimal-intervention approach in the winery. We want to tell people how the wine is low-intervention. We don’t want to tell them what it tastes like – tasting notes are subjective, so I don’t allow my team to talk about flavour profiles.

‘There are some common misconceptions. Many people think all natural wines taste funky. Some people think they won’t get a hangover from drinking these wines. They’ll soon learn that’s not true!

‘There are some regions in the world where it’s impossible to make natural wine. We do have a Texan Malbec on the list at Diogenes, but you won’t find any natural wine from Texas. People have tried, but the climate and soils there just won’t support it.’

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