Why is my wine Hazy?

Question from Stephen: I purchased a 2008 Pinot Noir from the bargain rack at a wine shop. They were selling the 2009 at full price for $66 got this for $45. Cork was in beautiful shape but wine is cloudy. What could the problem be?

Reply: I apologize for the delay in my reply. I figured the best source for the answer is the winery – but, after a few weeks, no reply from them. This is something I will never understand. A real, honest-to-goodness buyer of expensive wine wants an answer to his question and they can’t be bothered – in this market?! 

So, all I can do, since I didn’t see or taste the wine is give it my best guess. 

I hope it tasted good! Always remember that if it looks funky or tastes weird it can’t hurt you, so always give it a try. At this price, even though it was in the sale bin, I would have taken it back if it didn’t taste good. Of course, they won’t take it back if 3/4 of the wine is gone 😉
How hazy was it? If it was only slightly hazy and tasted good, it could be that the winemaker didn’t want to risk losing character by taking extra steps to clarify the wine. There are those who believe that fining and filtration take away from the wine and prefer bottling the wine hazy to further processing. Pinot Noir seems to be a variety that resists clarification – it’s not all that uncommon to come across a slightly cloudy bottle.

If it was big-time hazy it may have gotten too warm at some point. Protein can throw a haze when the wine warms up. It should still taste fine unless the heat was extreme or prolonged enough to damage it.  

Or, there may have been some microbiologically ca-ca activity. This tastes bad but is harmless.

If it was hazy and spritzy it may have gone through secondary fermentation, the malolactic fermentation, in the bottle. That won’t taste so great but won’t hurt you. 

Those are the most common situations. Looking at the winemaker notes for this wine it appears they make their wine very carefully and with minimal intervention, which means they may have chosen to skip fining and/or filtration. They didn’t say. 

Each wine is unique, which drives winemakers crazy but also adds to the mystery! I hope that helps. Please don’t hesitate to write if you have other questions. Cheers!

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