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So, What’s That In My Wine?

So, what’s that in my wine?  This is the question I hear when tartrate crystals appear in a wine, affixed to the cork, or clinging to the sides of the bottle of a fine wine.  And lately, we’ve been seeing more of these welcome but unsightly crystals.  Why is tartrate a welcome sight?  The short answer is that tartrate crystals, which often resemble glass, sugar, or just plan slush, are indicative of minimal intervention and natural handling in the wine making process of both red and white wines.

Tartrate crystal is a natural, harmless, tasteless-sediment that often appears in wines that have not been overly filtered, manipulated, or cold stabilized especially after temperature variations that occur during transit or after refrigeration.  The appearance of tartrate in wine is in no way a flaw: rather the appearance of tartrate sediment (tartrate is comprised mostly of potassium bitartrate, whose common name is cream of tartar), should be viewed as a sign of a winery’s commitment to producing the most natural, healthful wine possible.  Yet, tartrate can admittedly be unsightly.  To minimize the amount of tartrate and other precipitate that flows into your glass, simply stand a bottle of wine upright for several hours and then decant the wine carefully before serving.  Enjoy!

 

A Votre Santé!

Don

Posted in Wine Education

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About the Author

Don Lahey's career in the wine industry spans over 30 years as an importer, author, consultant, and educator. He leads the tasting panel that selects our wines each month.

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The International Wine of the Month Club