18
May
2012

Sentiments on Sediment #winemythsuncorked

Don't believe everything you hear....

There are two sides to every story…. At least, that's what they say.  By the way, just who are "they"?!  As far as I can tell, they can't seem to get their story straight, no matter how many sides it has.  Especially when it comes to wine.  That's why I'm taking matters into my own glass, er hands.  I'm going to take a deeper look at some of the most common wine myths throughout the history of winekind, er mankind (there I go again... sheesh, I need a drink).  Of course, some things we'll never know for sure.  For everything else, there's "Wine Myths Uncorked." 


Sentiments on Sediment: The Clearer the Better  #winemythsuncorked

You're standing at the kitchen counter, corkscrew in one hand, bottle of vino in the other, endorphins rising in your blood as you anticipate the satisfaction that will soon be yours upon the first sip of well-deserved wine after a long, hard day. Then you see them; those tiny UFOs in the bottle waiting to infiltrate your glass and ruin your evening. Great, a perfectly good bottle down the drain, right? Wrong! Whether we're talking non-specific sediment or tartrates, not only will they not hurt you (I repeat: they will NOT hurt you), they will not hurt your much-anticipated wine either (I repeat... OK, you get the picture). Sediment may impart a slightly bitter or astringent note to some wines, but overall, no harm done.

But where do they come from?

Good question! To put your mind at ease, sediment is a NATURAL occurrence of the winemaking process, and in some cases, intentional. It can consist of dead yeast cells, pigmented tannins (aka phenolic polymers), tartrate crystals, & other components of the grape skin/seeds and may be especially present in wines that are unfined/unfiltered and made to withstand some aging. I mean, we all develop a little sediment as the years go by and we're still doing fine, right? Well, wine is no different. In fact, wine intended for the long haul will benefit from a smidge of sediment, which adds to the "bouquet". Tartrates- which resemble tiny shards of glass- consist primarily of potassium acid tartrate (huh?), but are summed up beautifully by The Oxford Companion To Wine as "the harmless crystalline deposits that separate from wines during fermentation and aging." So there you have it- in writing!

All that said, harmless or not, you are not obliged to like sediment (like some people). If floaty things in your wine bother you, decant the wine long enough to allow the sediment to settle or in a way that removes it altogether.  Additionally, if after decanting, the wine appears cloudy or hazy, this may be the sign of an actual fault. Smell funny (like rotten eggs, burnt rubber/matches, sweaty socks, wet cardboard) or like nothing at all? That's no good. Regular ol' sediment will not draw THAT much attention to itself. Assuming it's the latter and is nicely settled or removed, pour yourself a big ol' glass, kick your heels up, and enjoy.

 

Counterpoint:  Not everyone feels you should have to choose between chunky wine and decanting....  

 

How do you feel about UFOs in your wine? Share your comments with us below or via Facebook or Twitter.  Cheers!

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