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Trick of the Trade: Removing Wine Sediment

Ever experienced that awkward moment when you see a pile of black particles at the bottom of your wine glass? Oh hello, how’d all you nasty little bits get in there?

Wine sediment is a trait of both red and white unfiltered wines. Winemakers choose to leave wines unfiltered in order to preserve color and give the wine a richer texture. So how do you keep them from tainting the inside of your wine glass? Watch the video to find out.

What’s in Wine Sediment?

Wine sediment is a by-product of winemaking and is not dangerous to your health (although it may stain your teeth). An example of one of these wine by-products is Cream of Tartar, a stabilizer used in candies and baking.

Many bottles of French Muscadet have a sticker that says “Sur Lees.” What does that mean? Lees are the dead yeast particles that sink to the bottom of the tank or barrel. When a wine is sur lees, the winemaker will go in and stir the lees once a day. This process actually makes the wines taste richer and creamier (without the use of oak). Lees are also common in aged sparkling wines.
Wine will be cloudy since proteins are microscopic. Proteins are typically removed with benotite or casein (egg whites) during wine stabilization. Proteins are almost always removed from commercial wines (especially white wine) because they can degrade a wine quickly.
Wine Crystals (aka Cream of Tartar)
Potassium bitartrate is a byproduct of tartaric acid in winemaking. Wine crystals are common in unfiltered white wines such as Chardonnay, White Bordeaux (a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc) and sometimes Viognier
Grape skins and Particles
You may come across grape skins in the form of black goop in the bottom of your glass. Unfiltered red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah commonly have sediment in the bottle. It is very uncommon to find grape particles in lighter red wines

Filter Wine Sediment

Use an aerating wine funnel to smooth out the aroma, texture and flavor of younger wines, and to remove any bitter sediment common in older wines. Wine Funnel & Filter availabe in our store.

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Hi I’m Madeline and this is wine folly

Today we’re going to be discussing what wine sediment is, and how you can remove it so you can enjoy your wine sediment free!

Sediment in wine occurs as a winemaker’s decision to leave a wine unfiltered in order to maintain a richer texture and quality in the wine. This can happen in red and white wines and it can be one of several things

The first thing it can be is Lees, lees are basically dead yeast bits that float around in your wine. your wine is made from yeast so those guys hang out and they die and it’s kinda funky. the majority of the lees do get strained off of most wines and they are left at the bottom of the barrel so that’s not usually a concern

The second thing is could be is proteins. those are very very fine and can actually make your wine cloudy. A lot of wines that are cloudy have proteins hanging out in them. Those are more difficult to remove and that’s not what we’ll be doing today.

The Last thing it can be, is it can be Potassium Bitartate. Which is something that precipitates through the wine as the wine is made, it’s a by-product of winemaking and it’s Cream of Tartar. Same thing.

Oh! and the Other thing it could be is actually tannins, little pips, skins, grape bits. That happens a lot in red wines that are made with the grapes and skins to extract more color into the wine. And so the winemakers will leave that in the wine.

This is probably what’s happening in this wine. This is a red wine from Italy. A lot of Old World Wines tend to be unfiltered. This is just a stylistic choice.

The best way to remove it is to actually leave it standing upright over a day and then patiently… You pull out a decanter… which you’ll then have to clean afterward…and you’ll pour out the majority of the bottle into the decanter and leave the little bits and skins at the bottom of the bottle.

I’m super impatient and I want my wine now. So! I’m going to use the ghetto method. My favorite thing to use is my tea strainer which I just put up on the edge of the glass. It’s relatively fine, not super fine but I think the important thing is that you get the bits and skins. You leave those from the inside of your glass, because those are bitter, they have a strange texture and they’ll ruin the wine experience.

So all you do is take your filter, pour some wine out and there! Filtered wine. Pretty simple right? No stuff!

About Madeline Puckette

James Beard award winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly

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