Have you ever poured a glass of crisp, chilled wine white and noticed something.. funny settled at the bottom of your glass? In your wine lifetime, you may have experienced wine sediment - traces of the winemaking process left in wine that appear crystalline with a grainy, sandy texture. Is this sediment in wine normal? We’re answering these questions, and more.
What is sediment in wine?
Simply put, sediment in wine is a natural byproduct of the winemaking process. The substance is commonly made up of small traces of grape skin, seeds, and other solids or precipitates. This sediment goes by many names - you may have heard the terms ‘wine dregs’ and tartrates. 'Wine dregs' come from the seeds and skins of wine grapes.
What are tartrates?
Tartrates are crystal-like substances that are formed when tartaric acid interacts with potassium in cold conditions. Tartrate crystals may be more prominent in your bottle if you’ve stored it in the refrigerator or chilled it. Why is this? Think about solids, liquids, and their relationship to temperature. Heat helps solids dissolve in liquids, while cold temperatures can turn them back into solid form.
Is there a difference between white wine and red wine?
On the surface, you might assume white wines have less sediment, simply because they are not fermented with grape skins and seeds like red wine. However, white wines are more likely to be chilled or stored in the fridge, so you’re more likely to experience tartrate crystals in white wine than red.
Does sediment mean the wine has gone bad?
We can’t emphasize this enough - sediment in your bottle does not mean the wine has gone bad or turned. In fact, some winemakers would argue many quality wines contain wine sediment. It’s truly up to the winemaker if they filter sediment out of their wines.
Is wine sediment harmful?
While finding some solid-like substances in your glass can be bit startling, there’s no reason to panic. It's completely natural and not at all harmful, however, we recognize that the sandy, grainy texture can detract from the wine drinking experience.
How to remove sediment in wine
There are a few things you can do to avoid sediment in your wine glass.
While we usually recommend storing corked wines on their side to ensure the cork doesn’t dry out, storing wines upright might be a good option to settle all the sediment at the bottom of your bottle.
Another way to reduce the amount of solids in your wine is to use a decanter. Simply pour your wine into the vessel, let it sit and aerate, and when you serve, be sure to leave the last bit of wine (along with any sediment) at the bottom of the vessel.
Some people believe in-bottle aerators can act as a wine sediment filter, filtering your wine as you pour. Aerating your wine is a good habit to get into, especially since it doesn’t require any extra planning or prep time.
In Vino Finito
Have you ever had an experience with wine sediment? Let us know in the comments!