Sediment in wine: is it ok to drink?
Anyone Feeling Sedimental…?
Often, I have been asked by friends and other wine drinking comrades what is that sediment they see when they reach the bottom of their wine glasses. This query is frequently accompanied with a certain anxiousness and, occasionally, almost downright panic. Luckily, that deposit in wine is harmless. You will probably have come across this in certain wines and for those who have not, this occurrence is simply known as: sediment in wine.
In this entry, we will be focussing on what is that deposit, how to separate sediment from wine knowing that it’s ok to drink the sediment in wine.
What is Sediment in wine?
So what is all this stuff in my wine? Quite simply, sediment is formed by dead yeast cells, tartrates and/or grape matter. It is actually not a fault, but a natural fact of winemaking. It can come about either during the production of a wine or when the wine is ageing in bottle.
So if you have a nicely aged vino, you might expect there to be some sediment in the glass. This could even be useful if you ever do blind wine tastings as you may be able to spot some at the bottom of your glass and have a more accurate guess at the vintage!
Separating the Sediment in wine
This process can be undertaken by the winemaker or the consumer. Firstly, it is useful to note that some producers remove the sediment themselves by filtering or fining the wines, but that this procedure will also take away some flavours and structure from the wine – that’s why in some cases, a producer might choose not to filter the wine.
An example of this is Stanlake Park’s new King’s Fumé – a low intervention, premium white wine that has been released unfiltered in order to retain all its character and structure. You can see sediment in many unfiltered beers and in proper cider too – the lower intervention in the making of the drink, the highest risk of seeing some deposits on it.
Even if the deposit in wine it’s completely harmless and doesn’t affect the flavour or drinkability of the product, you can anyway employ some easy methods to separate the sediment from the wine.
The first thing to do is to leave the bottle upright for a few hours. Wine must be stored on its side to improve its longevity and to protect the cork from drying out, but in order that all the sediment can be separated it must first be allowed to collect at the bottom. You can then go ahead and decant the wine to part the sediment from the liquid itself. It can be easier to do this if you aim a light at the bottle so you can see when the sediment is approaching the neck. Don’t forget then to stop pouring so that it doesn’t leave the bottle of course!
One final suggestion is to pour through a filter in order to catch the sediment in the wine before it ends up in the decanter.
Finally, please accept my apologies for the awful pun in the title. If you have read this far after that then you deserve a pat on the back. For those of you still here, this summary has given you the basics on sediment in wine. We know that there’s nothing to worry about. It is totally harmless so even if you do take a great big gulp, don’t panic and enjoy your wine!