The last couple bottles of wine I have pulled the cork on have had a fair amount of sediment in them. To be truthful, I am not a big fan of sediment although it isn’t harmful in any way and can often be a sign of a wine’s age, and some even say, its quality.
The sediment forms during a wine’s fermentation and aging process and is technically known as “lees.” Wine sediments are the particles that settle in the bottom of any wine container like a bottle, vat tank or barrel. Typically sediment is made up of dead yeast cells, fragments of grape pulp and skin, twigs and seeds that settle out of new wine. To get rid of the sediment, typically the wine is transferred to another container (called racking) leaving the sediment in the first container. As it is bottled it is filtered again.
Sometimes winemakers think that leaving the sediment in the wine through bottling adds to the flavor and texture of a wine. They actually bottle the wine without filtering it. Some wineries state on their wine labels that the wine is “unfiltered.” Something you might want to look for when you are purchasing a bottle of wine. It will give you direction on decanting and filtering.
Sediments in today’s bottled wines is unusual as most winemakers go to great lengths to ensure that wines are free of sediment…especially wines made to be consumed in the first few years after bottling (such as less expensive wines used for wine-by-the-glass programs in restaurants).
Sediment in the wine bottle can also be a by-product of the wine’s aging process. The tiny particles begin to attract to each other and keep getting larger and eventually get large enough they fall to the bottom of the bottle or, depending how the bottle is stored, cling to the bottle’s sides.
As I mentioned earlier, sediment is completely harmless and in some cases will taste a little bitter if you drink or chew it. Personally, I find it unpleasant to drink and tend to treat it the same way I do when I get a bone in my mouth when I eat fish. Because I don’t like to taste the sediment in my wines I tend to decant and strain most wines that I drink that are over five years old. If you want a refresher course on decanting wine you can check out my posts on decanting by clicking here. Bottles of wine with sediments are by no means bad bottles. In fact I find them to be just the opposite…they typically turn out to be good quality bottles.
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Until next week,
Upcoming ToutSuite Social Club Programs:
Below are the upcoming programs you might be interested in viewing on our wine country media partners site at http://www.toutsuite.com. ToutSuite programs are always informative and interesting.
October 16, Sake Drinker with Morimoto Beverage Manager Eduardo Dingler. Event starts at 8:30 pm EST
October 19, Simple Confident Cooking with Anna: Cassoulet Class. Event starts at 10:30 p.m. EST
November 19, Renwood Winery Live with Winemaker Joe Shebl. Event starts at 4 p.m. EST