Unpolished Grape 101: Why The Heck Is There Sediment in My Glass?

Sediment From 2018 Haut Medoc Bordeaux

What the heck is wine sediment and why is it in my glass?

What is Wine Sediment?

Wine sediment may look gross, odd, or possibly delicious to some, but it’s natural and pretty harmless. It is a mixture of grape seeds, stems, skins and tartaric crystals from the original grapes. The first time I tasted sediment at the bottom of my glass, I shrieked and spit it out. I didn’t dislike it, I was just unprepared to suddenly start chewing what tasted like “wine candy” when I got to the bottom of my glass.

Sediment From Fermentation

Sediment can form during fermentation, as red wines are often mixing and sitting in these thick liquids of grape juice, skin, seeds and stems for long periods of time. Although most wines will undergo sedimentation to remove unwanted lees and elements, it’s still possible for some of these tiny pieces to get mixed into the final bottle of wine. For many famed and prestigious bottles of wine, wine-makers often choose to keep the sediment in the bottle to increase flavor complexity and texture.

Sediment From Aging/Maturation

Sediment can also form as a wine ages and matures in a bottle over time. Gravity will slowly pull the sediment downwards to collect at the base of the bottle for wines stored standing upright. In corked bottles laid on their sides, the sediment gathers along the bottom of the bottle.

Wines with a heavy deposit are usually carefully decanted first in order to pour the wine while leaving the sediment behind. In fine establishments, sommeliers often pour very slowly, while holding a flame or dim candlelight to the bottle to know when to stop pouring. This practice will leave most of the sediment behind.

Or, you may choose to just drink it right along with the wine. Drinker’s choice!


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