Sour Times & Delicious Sour Wines

Mar 28, 2024

Written by Liz Miller, Hop City West End Wine Manager

It was the nineties, and I was a weird kid with freckles and buck teeth. I caught lizards for fun, and pretended to be the yellow Power Ranger on the playground at school (because the Pink Ranger was for “girly girls”). After a long day of learning about photosynthesis with Ms. Frizzle, I’d sneak into my kitchen at home to steal a mouth-puckering sip of sweet gherkin pickle juice straight from the jar. I still have freckles and buck teeth, and I’m still learning about photosynthesis (in grapevines), but I’ve switched to drinking sour beers and natural wines. 

My dad is flying to Atlanta soon so we can spend our birthdays together, and as they [don’t] say in the wine world, the grape doesn’t fall far from the vine (see visual aids below). My dad encouraged me to try new things and to embrace my eccentricities. He had a huge impact on my tastes—including music, food, and beverages. I probably wouldn’t have become a chef if it weren’t for him, I probably wouldn’t have DJ’d or worked in record stores, and I probably wouldn’t have gone down the rabbit hole of wine that I’m wandering through now. My dad is a sour beer head to the core—the wilder and more mouth-puckering the beer, the better. I have a stash of sour beers awaiting his arrival in April, but for this visit I’d like to expose him to some wines that drink like sour beers as well. These are my choices: 

Sons of Wine “404” Pét–Nat (100 % Verdejo) $29.99 

Farid Yahimi is a French winemaker and négociant that works with grape growers from all over to create biodynamic wines. He is the cousin of Carole Yahimi, who founded The French Association of Natural Wine (AVN), and studied under natural wine pioneers such as Pierre Overnoy, Marcel Lapierre, Thierry Puzelat, and Christian Binner. The grapes in this wine are briefly macerated on the skins and fermented with wild yeasts. This wine is wildly refreshing and features sharp acidity, crisp bubbles, and flavors of funky, ripe apricot. 

Weingut Seckinger “Zügellos" (70% Muskateller & 30% Weißburgunder) $21.99

Jonas Seckinger’s wines have some producers in Southern Pfalz scratching their heads with confusion, meanwhile Germany’s new generation of cork dorks are sipping away gleefully. Seckinger produced his first wine at the age of 17, initially experimenting with an old wooden press in his parents’ garage. Zügellos translates to “unbridled”, or something uncontrolled and unrestrained. As sour beer drinkers will know, sour is an acquired taste in a beverage, and this wine ticks all the right boxes. This rakish style wine is mouth-puckering, citrusy, and bone dry with an almost savory quality to it. It’s aged in (German) oak barrels on native yeasts, just like a traditional Lambic beer. 

Fio “Nat’Cool” Riesling $26.99 

The name Fio is Portuguese for “thread”. The estate that makes this wine is a joint venture between the well-known Portuguese producer Dirk Niepoort, his two sons, and the Kettern family of Weingut Lothar Kettern in the Mosel. In the cellar, these wines are fermented naturally and without sulfur in old Mosel foeder barrels. The resulting wine is energetic and zippy with hints of quinine and lemon pith. It offers a light, refreshing, and almost saline tartness like that of a gose. Fio is producing avant-garde wines without pretense for everyday drinking.

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