All Natural at NYC Wine & Food Festival

An uncommonly warm Friday afternoon only piqued temptation as the thirsty filed into an imbiber’s paradise on Pier 54 where the NYC Wine and Food Festival’s Beverage Media Trade Tasting was taking place.  The salsa tunes and warm weather only bolstered the flavors of the first tent, headed by Food Network star and celebrity chef Wilo Benet, whose succulent lechon sandwiches were quickly catching praise.  A sandwich and three rum punches later, one was prepped to enter the main tent that sprawled the entire pier and contained over 80 eager vendors with plenty of product to sample.

Maneuvering through the oasis with an empty glass promised to be difficult, and after one assessing lap the lechon sandwiches proved effective not only as a delicious appetizers but a saturating buffer.  Wine, liquor, beer, even carbonated sake were represented, from established houses to micro brews, from new entries to old favorites.

Yet, it was the new kids on the block that made the biggest impact, partly because of the attention to organic production and green practices.

As one keen participant expressed, “It’s not about buying a green product, but it’s about buying a decent product and having the added incentive.”

Producers are investing in this sentiment providing consumers products they can feel good about and get behind.  The three designations that are used most commonly are organic, green and all natural.

All natural?

I heard this status most of the afternoon.  Achieving an organic status can be quite arduous and very expensive forcing many producers to utilize the term “all natural”.

“All natural” tequila, as wonderful as it may sound, is not likely to be any healthier than other tequilas on the market, and there is no stipulation of what “all natural” entirely means.

There are a handful of organically recognized distilleries out there, plenty of organic wineries, but the only proven benefits seem to be intrinsic as opposed to physical.

Although I would like to have believed that consuming “all-natural” tequila was a healthy measure, I hadn’t completed enough laps of the pier to be fooled.   The only item I could be assured were that producers were making greater efforts to give back, demonstrating to their consumers that they could be green conscious, even if solely for the marketing rights.

From the use of recycled glass, to the replenishing of farms, to employing farmer’s wives, liquor producers are finding ways to be more eco-responsible and presenting agendas imbibers can feel good about too.

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