Uncorking the World of Natural Wine with Nad Wines Founder and Experience Enthusiast
"Pulutan” in Tagalog is defined as the food you eat when you drink. For Filipinos, that’s a cold glass of beer paired with small snacks and appetizers like crunchy lumpia, fried chicharon, or a fish ball on a stick. But let’s change that bottle of Corona to a glass of Rose. That’s what wine and lifestyle content creator Nadia Mincey encourages others to explore — new tastes and experiences.
“Fried food typically pairs well with sparkling wine, kind of like beer. One of the wines in my line-up is a Sparkling Rose of Zinfandel, and I pair it with lumpia. It’s the fat and salt of the lumpia that goes well with the fruit and acid component of the Rose bubbles,” Mincey said.
Mincey’s interest in and study of wine began during the pandemic. Having lived in the Bay Area, she regularly visited wineries in Berkeley, where she found a casual tasting atmosphere that differed from the traditional tasting rooms in Napa. She first tasted and encountered “natural wine” in these local wineries, whose environment ignited a passion within her. And it was here that she embarked on her journey of wine.
In February 2020, before the pandemic hit, Mincey launched her Instagram account, @NadWines, where she began posting the various wines she was trying. Initially, it was just a way for her to share her experiences with those close to her. But as she continued to post, she gradually built a community of fellow wine enthusiasts, particularly those who were also people of color or those that didn’t feel their palates were particularly represented in the wine industry.
“I would document the wine I was drinking, and in my sharing notes, I also included my activities and food pairings that didn’t look like your traditional tasting notes. I didn’t realize how much of my palate and background connected with other people who were interested in wine as well,” Mincey said.
As her knowledge and taste expanded, Mincey delved more into the world of natural wine. According to Food and Wine, natural wine means that “nothing artificial has been added to the grape growing or winemaking processes.”
Natural and low-intervention wine is a return to how wine was originally made. There are no pesticides and no chemicals used in the vineyard. Sometimes the grapes are dry-farmed, meaning there is no irrigation system and farmers use water provided by the land and sky.
“In commercial wines, like your larger grocery store names, there are over 60 approved additives from the FDA that are allowed in winemaking. In natural wine, few to none of those are used; yielding wines made with low intervention,” Mincey said. “On alcohol bottles, you don’t see the nutritional or ingredient labels, so you don’t know what’s really in there. With natural wine, it’s a lot of self-education, talking to the winemakers, and finding out what exactly is in it. It’s also finding winemakers who are telling the story of the land with purpose and intention.”
Natural wine is created in smaller vineyards and produced on a smaller scale, with grapes harvested by hand instead of machines. Unlike commercial wine, natural wine involves no intervention or addition of yeast, sulfites, or chemicals during the process. Rather, the grapes are crushed and left to undergo a slow and natural fermentation process. As a result of this minimal intervention, winemakers must adapt to changing environments and fluctuations.
“To explain natural wine, I use a burger analogy. When you go to your favorite fast food chain any time of the year you get a burger and it tastes exactly the same. There’s no change in the recipe. When making burgers at home, you can change it up by toasting the bun or adding your own sauces. With the homemade burger, you can taste all the different flavor layers. It’s not just one flavor like a fast food chain. Commercial wine is what that chain burger is to me. With natural wine, you can taste so many different flavors and feel sensations that come from it,” Mincey said.
To further her education and skills, Mincey pursued and completed a Wind and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 Certification. Although the certification primarily focused on conventional winemaking and tasting methods, Mincey could adapt and incorporate what she learned into her own unique approach. This formal education enabled her to grasp the standard principles while still staying true to her culture and community.
With the expansion of her Instagram community, Mincey began hosting wine-tasting events tailored for large groups, private parties, and people interested in gaining their first in-depth understanding of natural wine. She also formed a partnership with Sans Wine Co., a wine producer based in Lake County, which she utilizes samples from for her private tastings.
“I like to focus not just on the taste of the wines but also the education around it. At my tastings, I explain what natural wines are, their differences from commercial wines, and how they can be paired with food from different cultures,” Mincey said. “I want to show how wine just isn’t siloed and stuffy. I want to help guide people in making informed choices for their future wine ventures.”
As an expecting mother, Mincey has shifted her programming to storytelling and expanding her content creation. She is the Assistant Editor and contributor for The Wine Zine, a biannual wine magazine based in New York City that centers the culture, ideas, and people behind natural wine.
Mincey also hosts a podcast called “Nad Wines,” where she explores “the blend of people, places, and natural wines that inspire her.” The focus of each episode varies from discussions with small business owners, suggestions for pairing to complement different wine varieties, and stories about individuals who have found liberation in the wine world. In a recent episode, Mincey features a pre-med student from the University of California, Davis, who decided wine was his calling. He now manages a tasting room in Napa, providing representation for the Black community in prestigious wine country.
“There’s so much more to wine than just drinking it. There are the stories and the people behind it. That’s what makes it unique. I am realizing that there are a lot of people like me where wine wasn’t their first career or calling but they also found the art and beauty within the industry,” Mincey said.
As Mincey grows her platform and tasting events, she hopes to see the wine industry continue to diversify. According to the 2021 Wine Market Council Benchmark Segmentation Survey, 70 percent of U.S. wine drinkers are white-non Hispanic, while 13 percent are Hispanic, 12 percent are Black, and 4 percent are Asian.
“Typically, wine has been embedded in culture through food and that’s Eurocentric. If you look at the French, Portuguese, and Spanish, they have the European old world wines. With Filipino food, you drink beer or cognac and for the Black community you drink malt liquor, or something sweet. My parents didn’t grow up drinking wine. Wine is still fairly new to my own family,” Mincey said.
In 2022, Mincey organized a wine tasting event during Filipino American History Month that featured natural wine paired with Filipino cuisine. She explained the science behind the flavor pairing and offered suggestions for Filipino food and wine pairings. Her recommendations included pairing a Reisling with classic Filipino dishes such as pancit palabok and pinakbet or Sans Sauvignon Blanc Spritzer with fried and sticky appetizers like fried chicken or crispy pata.
“Some attendees who were Filipino said that they didn’t know they could drink wine with these kinds of foods and even thought it wasn’t allowed. I told them ‘yes anything goes!’” Mincey said.
As Mincey embarks on new endeavors, she plans to expand her wine tastings and events across California. Additionally, she has observed a shift in the winemaking industry, with a greater emphasis on sustainability and transparency in their production methods and ingredients.
Her advice on how to get started in wine: “Start tasting. The more you taste, the more you can educate yourself and connect it with all your different