Question from Anna: Once in awhile I notice a dark coating on the sloped part of the bottle or dark sandy stuff in the wine. Does that mean the wine is bad?
Tag Archives: wine filtration
Reply: Hi, Anna. Thanks for writing! It sounds to me like you’re describing sediment, something that occurs naturally in wine as it ages. It’s nothing to worry about at all. In fact, it may be a sign that the wine maker went easy on the processing which is usually a good thing.
As the wine ages, pigment and tannin get together get together to form a chain and become so heavy that, eventually, they fall out of the wine as sediment. This will happen sooner or later, depending upon how the wine was made. If the wine maker was quite thorough in applying clarification techniques such as fining and filtration it will probably take a long time for sediment to form. Perhaps it never will.
Some varieties are prone to throwing solids. I really notice it with Syrah. Quite often I notice a crust on the shoulder of the bottle and when I pull out the cork there’s gunky sediment on the end that stains my hands. Small price to pay for a delicious Syrah in my view
the sediment is gritty, so the thing to do if you have an older bottle of red to serve is to stand it up for several hours to let the sediment go to the bottom. Then, at serving time, carefully decant the wine (move it to another container – a decanter or pitcher) off the sediment and enjoy! If it’s quite old please be very gentle and wait to decant it until you’re ready to actually drink it. If it’s thinking about going over the hill the extra aeration may just give it a push.
Now, if you see sparkling crystals on the cork or in the wine, that’s a whole different kettle of fish: tartrates
I hope that helps! Thanks, again, for writing. Cheers!
Question from Gordon: Does it matter if a great tasting wine is cloudy?
Reply: Hi, Gordon. Thanks for writing!
My philosophy has always been that if it tastes good it is good. Clarity is the ideal, so haziness or cloudiness always makes my antennae go up – there could be some kind of microbiological naughtiness going on in there. But, I have to say I’ve pulled the cork on some pretty scary looking wines that were absolutely delicious. And, even if something’s gone wrong the wine won’t hurt you. It might offend you, though. If it tastes weird, take it back.
Others feel less tolerant, thinking that even if it tastes fine, is it as good as it was meant to be? They would recommend taking it back to the retailer and getting a replacement bottle. The bottle should be nearly full if you’re going to return it It’s a way of finding out if it was just that one bottle or if it’s just the nature of the wine. Unless, of course, you get a bottle from the same case. It could be that there’s batch variation and that retailer received the cloudy batch…
Possible causes of cloudiness or lack of clarity?
Some varieties resist clarification techniques the wine maker has at hand. And, some wine makers don’t like to process the wine too much for fear of taking away the angels with the devils. They feel that filtration or fining strip the wine of its character. I remember one very famous wine writer, who has an ax to grind when it comes to filtration, referring to a very expensive bottle of Cabernet as “eviscerated!” Continue reading