The holidays call for an endless exchange of wine bottles. Off they go in totes everywhere, en route to festive gatherings and back again to get regifted. It doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t make more conscious decisions about the wines we’re choosing. This year, we’re looking out for funky flavors that are friendly to the environment, too. With the help of Laura Marchetti, owner of Riverview Wine & Spirits in Jersey City, NJ, we’ve compiled a list of winter-forward natural wines for all your merry-making needs.
Marchetti, who grew up amongst an agrarian culture in central Italy, believes most real wine is natural or natural-leaning. “‘Natural’ is basically what we called vino del contadino (farmer’s wine) or vino vero (real wine),” she says. “So many of the most famous wines in the world are and always have been essentially ‘natural.’” If that wacky label on the table elicits any eyebrow raises from viticulturally conservative relatives, be sure to remind them that this here pét-nat is actually as traditional as you can get.
Since moving to the U.S. in the later aughts, Marchetti has been involved in hospitality; her partner (now her husband) had been working in bars and restaurants since the late ’90s. They both share a love for wine as well as a deep understanding of where it comes from, “so it was an inevitable course for me to eventually own my own wine shop,” she says.
And that wine shop found its home in The Heights neighborhood of Jersey City, which boasts some burgeoning culinary players like Corto and Bread And Salt. “I didn’t think I was serving the Heights anything new. I just wanted to serve them something real—and there was never a doubt in my mind that the people of the Heights want and understand what is real,” Marchetti says.
Here are Marchetti’s picks for potlucks, New Years celebrations, and cozy nights in.