From his review of the Green Man and French Horn:
The latest bit of food and drink language-torture to get me all peevish is “natural wine”…. For a start there is the idea of “naturalness”. A quick bit of undergraduate philosophy: if the human race is a natural phenomenon, then anything we do is natural, just as it’s natural for ants to make ant hills and rabbits to dig holes. It doesn’t mean everything we do is fine. But it does mean that calling one thing we do natural and something else unnatural is to take the English language, jump all over it, drive a stake through its heart, cover it in butane, drop a match on it and laugh at the guttering flames.
But here’s what matters. Every natural wine I have ever tried has been horrible. It’s felt like punishment; a sweet promise broken. If that’s what additive-free wine is like – the whacking smell of a pigsty before it’s been cleaned down, an acrid, grim burst of acid that makes you want to cry – then bring on the chemicals. Hurrah for sulphur. Hurrah for humankind and its ability to use all the tools at its disposal to make nice things to drink.
To reiterate, there are three important points to be taken here:
- The dichotomy between “natural” and “artificial” is false.
- “Unnatural” does not equal “bad.”
- Sometimes – maybe most times – preservatives are a good thing.
I am reminded of the viral video of a McDonald’s meal sitting around for weeks and not rotting. It has since been debunked and shown to be meaningless. But if a hamburger that was immune to rot actually existed, why wouldn’t we consider it an amazing achievement of human ingenuity,rather than a disgusting crime against nature?