Natural Wine: Everything You Need to Know

April 2021 Elroy’s Fine Foods Wine Trust wines (left to right): Menti Giovanni – Monte Del Cuca ’18; Pardas Cellars – Blau Cru ’17; Rootdown Wine Cellars – Trousseau ’19

Elroy’s Fine Foods prides itself on having the largest selection of natural wines in Monterey : Find out why

Here at Elroy’s Fine Foods we happen to like Natural wine—a lot. They possess a purity that is mesmerizing. But there is more to our love for it than just the style and taste. The wines on our shelves are made by winemakers who practice good stewardship of the earth, leaving it healthier for generations to come. They are true to their place of origin and devoid of foreign contaminants. You can feel confident knowing that when you get your wine from Elroy’s Fine Foods, you are drinking only the finest that the world has to offer when it comes to natural wine. But what is it exactly that separates natural wines from conventional ones?

What is Natural Wine?

Natural wine is made from grapes that are farmed organically or biodynamically and harvested by hand. In the winery, no additives are used during the transformation of juice to wine. Fermentation is started by ambient yeasts present in the air that enter the winery on the grape skins. Mechanical manipulation is no-go. Fining and filtering, if done at all, are done using methods that forgo incorporation of outside agents. Sulfites are used judiciously, if at all.

Why Does Organic/Biodynamic Farming Matter?

For the children! Simply put, it is our collective responsibility to ensure the health and prosperity of the planet for future generations. Furthermore, natural winemakers understand that a healthy vineyard produces healthy grapes, which in turn makes good wine. Since there is no use of additives that can mask the outcome of a poor vintage, vineyard health comes first and foremost.

Why Should We Forgo Additives?

Why add them in the first place? At this moment upwards of 200 additives in wine. Non-native commercial yeasts choke out native strains and result in wine lacking personality. Some additives alter the color (Mega Purple anyone?), and some change the texture, taste, or smell. Some we could not pronounce if we tried. It should be simpler, right? We think so.

What about Sulfites?

Sulfites are a natural byproduct of fermentation and present in all wines. The resulting level post-fermentation varies, and in some cases a Natural Winemaker might add a little extra before bottling–far below the FDA limit of 350ppm–to increase the stability and longevity of the wine. The final sulfite levels in Natural Wine are far less than their conventional counterparts, and that is the way we like it.

What about Elroy’s Fine Foods?

Here at Elroy’s Fine Foods, we are passionate about our wine. Like, OVERLY passionate. One of our favorite things to do at the Uncommon Market is to educate our customers on our outstanding products – wines included. Nate, who manages our selection and runs the Wine Trust, is always ready and willing to answer questions or help you find the perfect bottle to pair with your dinner, party, or take-out night on the couch. Come join us and start your natural wine adventure!

What is the Wine Trust?

The Wine Trust is a monthly subscription that gives you three new wines to try each month and 10% off all other wine purchases during your membership. We also include blurbs about the producers and recommended food pairings for each bottle. Each curated selection features natural wines from all over the globe!

Want to join the Wine Trust? Send us an email to learn more!

What makes Elroy’s Fine Foods Uncommonly Good for You?

We read every label for you; we don’t allow these guys at the store.

At Elroy’s Fine Foods, we’re extremely diligent about only offering the highest quality, sustainable, ethically sourced and healthy products on our shelves. We have tried, tasted and personally use everything we sell, so we care more about making sure it is good for you than the average grocery store. When we started out, creating an Uncommon Market is what drove us. We knew we wanted to be different than other grocery stores. We wanted to be the grocery store that you could trust – without having to read the labels. So, we started our search with a comprehensive list of things we wouldn’t sell before we chose the products on our shelves.

Today, we are sharing that list with you! These ingredients are banned from our store, so you can shop without worrying if these bad guys snuck into your snacks.

Artificial and High-Fructose Sweeteners

It’s no secret that most people love sweets. But when it comes to sugars, we only allow the real deal on our shelves. We have banned artificial sweeteners like saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose, which are sweeter than natural sugars and can contribute to sugar cravings and the urge to overeat. Even though these sweeteners are low-calorie, their hyper-sweetness can overstimulate our sugar receptors, leading us to find naturally sweet foods like fruit unpalatable.

And then there’s the king of unhealthy sugar: High fructose corn syrup. We ban this bad guy because it’s linked to insulin resistance, high triglycerides, and unhealthy weight gain.

If you’ve visited us, you know we love our sweets (just take a peek at our in-house baked goods if you’re skeptical). But when it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth, we go the natural route, only allowing sweeteners like cane sugar, honey, coconut sugar, dates, and fruit.

Food Additives

Preservatives, stabilizers, and thickeners, oh my!

The traditional food production industry adds all kinds of chemicals to processed foods to enhance flavor, increase shelf life, add visual appeal, and achieve certain textures. The problem with these additives is that they can contribute to diseases like cancer (propyl gallate, carrageenan, camauba wax, magnesium sulphate), and conditions like headaches, nerve damage, and seizures (MSG, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate). Some can aggravate or cause conditions like asthma (Azodicarbonamide) or digestive or endocrine disruption (Olestra, Parabens). That factory-made bagel you’re munching could be causing real damage to your body!

We believe natural foods don’t need to be stabilized or chemically modified. So we keep these nasty chemicals out of our store.

Artificial Food Coloring

They’re not just dyeing your food unnatural colors…they’re also doing unnatural things on the inside! Food dyes show up on ingredients lists as a color and number–for example, Blue #1, Blue #2, Yellow #5, and Red #3. But there are also harmful food dyes that are a little sneakier: Caramel coloring, Brown HT, Orange B, Bixin, Norbixin, and Annatto.

Food dyes have been linked to thyroid, adrenal, bladder, kidney, and brain cancers. And be sure to be on the lookout for artificial food coloring when shopping for your kids–these ingredients are linked to hyperactivity and asthma in children.

Mother nature doesn’t need any help making food beautiful. Everything in our store is free from artificial colors and dyes, so everything you see is in its naturally beautiful state.

And the worst offenders…

Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrite. These are added to processed meats to stop bacterial growth. Sounds great, right? After all, who wants bacteria in their meat? Unfortunately, these ingredients are linked to cancer in humans, as well as metabolic syndrome and possibly diabetes.

What’s the answer? Allowing only fresh, locally and sustainably raised meat inside our store. At Elroy’s Fine Foods all of our animals lived as nature intended, giving you a selection of naturally delicious meats to choose from.

To make sure everything we sell is not only good, but good for you, we have banned 50+ ingredients from the shelves. That’s part of why we are the Uncommon Market…only the finest foods get the Elroy’s Fine Foods seal of approval for our customers!

How to Host the Perfect Japanese-Themed Date Night

Elroy’s Fine Foods has you covered when it comes to planning that perfect date night

If you’re looking to create a memorable date night, we’re here to inspire. With many date night options off the table for the time being, Elroy’s Fine Foods is coming to the rescue with a quick and easy Japanese-themed date night that is sure to keep the flames of romance alive.

Date nights can still be lively and romantic, so take a peek at this guide, and then head over to Elroy’s Fine Foods to pick up everything you need. Or simply call the store for personalized curbside service or delivery by Green Pedal Courier Collective.

Let’s set the tone for the perfect Japanese-themed date night:

Choose a movie…
We can all agree that the classic date has a movie involved, right? Celebrate your love of Japanese culture with streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, so your couch-based rendezvous will be a memorable one.

Here are our favorite recommendations:

  • Departures

    Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign Film in 2009, this movie follows a young man as he explores the subject of life and death and the emotions that surround it.

  • Castle in the Sky

    If you are a fan of Star Wars, you will likely enjoy this movie as well.

  • A Tale of Samurai Cooking: A True Love Story

    An easy and light-hearted love story that involves a talented female chef who has to prove her worth to her in-laws.

  • Midnight Diner

    A binge-worthy series on Netflix about ordinary people who eat in a restaurant at midnight. It’s much more exciting than it appears at first glance!

…Or make it a competition with a video game.

If you’re not in the mood for a movie, get a competition going with some video games. A Nintendo console is the perfect choice; the Japanese video game giant makes games that are easy for even non-gamers to pick up and have fun with. So even if your date isn’t an avid player, multiplayer games like Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros., and Mario Party are easy to get the hang of and can make date night a blast. To make it even more competitive, bet on a prize for winning best out of three.

Immerse in a relaxing tea ceremony

Start your at-home date night off with a warm, relaxing cup of tea. Green Tea or Matcha is one of the most popular drinks in Japan, with a number of varieties to choose from, which means there is something for everyone. Whether you prefer matcha, classic green tea, white tea, oolong, black tea, or to keep is caffeine-free with herbal options, we have you covered in-store. Visit the Elroy’s Fine Foods Bulk Department for our in-house fresh tea blends that you can’t get anywhere else for a heartfelt, one of a kind experience.

Romance your partner by cooking Tan-Men together

Japanese cuisine is full of bright, fresh flavors and Tan-Men is no exception. This simple meal is quick and easy to make. If you love homestyle, comfort dishes, you’ll love this dish that was actually served in the Japanese Netflix drama Midnight Diner. Tan-Men ia a flavorable ramen-type noodle soup with stir fried pork, a variety of seasonings, and seasonable vegetables. It’’s our top pick for a Japanese-themed date night!

We found our recipe for Tan-Men from Head over there to learn how to make this delicious soup that you and your date will love.

Here’s your Elroy’s Fine Foods shopping list to make the recipe:

  • Green onions/scallions
  • Green cabbage
  • 1 Carrot
  • 4 oz bean sprouts
  • 4 oz Llano Seco pork belly (call for availability or to special order)
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Big Sur Salts Pico Blanco (an incredible local sea salt from the coast)
  • Spectrum Safflower Oil
  • Spectrum Sesame Oil
  • Fungus Among Us dried mushrooms (A medley of Oyster, Porcini, Cremini & Shiitake that would make this soup pop)
  • Bgreen Organic Buckwheat Ramen Noodles (gluten free!)
  • Organic Chicken Broth
  • Dark Horse Umami Bouillon

And if you’re really trying to spice things up, don’t forget to pick up these items from our aisles as well:

  • Candles
  • Flowers
  • Natural Wine
  • Sweet treats & desserts

We hope you are inspired to create a memorable Japanese themed date night, one that will reignite the flames of romance. Elroy’s Fine Foods has you covered, call or come in today to re-create your unforgettable Japanese- themed date night.

Welcome to Elroy’s Fine Foods! An Introduction to the Uncommon Market

Offering only the highest quality foods for our friends in Monterey County, California

Welcome to Elroy’s Fine Foods, your one-stop shop for all the fine foods your heart desires. Elroy’s Fine Foods is a gourmet grocery store (and more) in Monterey, California. We opened in August 2020 (hello pandemic!) in the historic Monte Vista Market Space.

If you’ve visited our store, you know we’re all about inspiring you to experiment with fine foods from around the globe. And here on our blog, we’re doing the same thing! Visit us here week after week to discover new recipes, supplier spotlights, exciting products, inspired ideas, and more.

Nice to meet you!
As the Uncommon Market, we promise you a premium shopping experience and only the finest groceries and prepared foods. You can shop here knowing that we have vetted (and tasted!) each vendor we work with to ensure that we only sell foods you can serve your family and feel good about.

With deep roots in social and environmental responsibility, Elroy’s Fine Foods is proud to offer the most delicious prepared foods, a curated grocery aisle, hand-selected produce from neighboring farmers markets, a full-service bulk food section, and fine cheeses, as well as locally-sourced, humanely raised meats and sustainably caught seafood. We can’t wait to welcome you into our store on your next visit!

In the meantime, here are some of our favorite reasons that we call ourselves The Uncommon Market:

Gourmet-Quality Prepared Foods
We have a big fancy grill and an even better chef. Chef Eden Colibri is always whipping up prepared foods specials that are sure to fire up your taste buds. Using only the freshest meat and produce that we offer in house, the menu you can find at Elroy’s Fine Foods is full of seasonal and coastal flair. Chef Eden honors a multitude of cultures through his ever-changing menu. Check out our prepared foods counter, full of breads, soups, salads and sandwiches, ferments and condiments, and luscious desserts and pastries to finish your meal the right way. Come in today to grab dinner! You can even pretend you made it; we will never tell.

The “Bad Guy” List
You may be thinking…what in the world is a “Bad Guy” List? Well for us, it’s a list of everything we DON’T allow at Elroy’s Fine Foods. With a list of 50+ chemicals and nasty ingredients that we don’t allow on our shelves, you can rest easy knowing that if we sell it, it is going to be good for you.

Farm Fresh Produce (grown just for us!)
Want to know the secret to having the freshest produce? It is seasonality! Serving fruits and vegetables that are in season and grown locally ensures that all of our organic produce is sold at the peak of freshness. Real-life farmer Jamie Collins has teamed up with Elroy’s Fine Foods to create a unique distribution system exclusive to us that utilizes produce from neighboring farmers markets in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.

Bulk Department
One of our absolute favorite parts of our store is the bulk department. We don’t mean to brag, but as only one of two stores in the entire United States that use glass and stainless steel bins, we just cannot keep quiet about it! Elroy’s Fine Foods beautiful, full service, chef-selected bulk section offers a superb array of local and organic grains, flours, nuts and nut butters, seeds, dried beans, oils and vinegars, salts and peppers, and custom tea and spice blends. Fill up one of our compostable containers with the exact amount of whatever ingredient you need. With our completely full-service program, you can rest assured that your items are free from harmful chemicals.

We’re Good for the Community
Here at Elroy’s Fine Foods, we love our community! We are committed to supporting our local neighbors in the grocery world. When owners Chloe and Jay Dolata envisioned what this store would become, they wanted the whole package: a beautiful store, serving only the finest groceries as well as the community—a positive, inspiring place for neighbors to meet and hang out. We are so proud of what has blossomed from this initial vision, and we know that you will be too!

Come visit us today! For more information about Elroy’s Fine Foods, click here.