If you are a wine enthusiast, it’s typical for you to enjoy a bottle of vintage with your circle of lovely friends. And when you’re about to empty the bottle, you must have come across some mucky and sludgy mess in the wine dregs, which can be pretty disturbing. After finding that, you might want to rethink your last sip, which is supposed to be divine. Right?
What you find at the bottom of your wine bottle is known as the wine sediment. It’s common to find these, and it shouldn’t cause any alarm. You will understand what these are, whether the wine residue is safe to drink or not, and ways to avoid or remove them at home.
What is Sediment in Wine?
Let’s go! A sediment is a form of solid material which is a byproduct of winemaking and settles at the bottom of any wine barrel. It usually happens during the fermentation process or when the wine matures in the cask, barrel, or bottle. So, you can now see how natural sediments are, which most of them come in bits of seeds, crystal-like tartrates, and grape skin.
In case you are wondering, tartrates are similar to burgundy-colored diamonds when you find them in the red wine. Sediment in white wine appears like clear diamonds. We can say these are the lovechild of tartaric acid, which binds with potassium. These are all-natural ingredients found in winemaking.
Some of the names you’ll hear of wine sediments include-wine crystals, wine diamonds, and dregs. Wondering what dregs are? They are sediments found in the bottom of a wine bottle or a glass base of wine. These are yeast cells or leftover grape solids seeds, skin, and stems tartrates. It can also be any other solids leftover from the processing of wine.
Lees is a substance used in winemaking which is also known as dead yeast. These form when the dead yeast remains in the wine after the wine fermentation process. Winemakers age wine purposely (contact the lees “Sur Lie”) to enhance its flavor. It’s more useful in white wines such as Chardonnay, Champagne, and Muscadet. One way to remove these lees in wine is through filtering, racking, or fining.
Why are Wines Filtered, Racked, or Fined?
We’ll define all three processes to help you understand them better.
Fining wine is a process involving adding substances that will attract wine sediment particles. Some of these common materials include bentonite, fine volcanic ash, egg whites, milk, pea proteins, and fish. Bentonite charges attract sediment particles as they settle at the bottom of the cask or barrel.
Racking wine is a process involving drawing off or siphoning off wine from a barrel and leaving the sediments of sludgy layers at the bottom of the container undisturbed. After racking, the racked wine remains clearer than it looked in the original barrel. Some wines may get racked several times to achieve the desired texture.
Filtering is a standard process where wine is run through a filter to remove the larger particles from the wine. If one is not careful, smaller particles can also get filtered, which is not ideal because it adds character to the wine.
How to Remove Sediments in Wine at home?
If you are one of those who get bothered by the sedimentary remains when enjoying your wine, there are a few hacks you can use to remove the sediment in a wine bottle at home:
- A fine sieve or cheesecloth can do the magic of removing any sediments left in the bottle. Be careful and use a wide vessel to avoid losing your delightful drips.
- Decanting is another popular option where people use a decanter to serve red wine. For this, to be successful, you have to leave the bottle standing upright for one to two days before serving. By then, the sediments in red wine will have settled at the bottom. Serve the wine beside a light source to see the deposits inside. Then pour it carefully while keeping an eye on the sediments. It would be ideal to stop pouring when the sediments move closer to the bottle’s neck.
Which Type of Wine is Most Likely to Contain Sediment?
Short-term wine bottles will hardly have any deposits of sediments since they are thoroughly filtered. But the wine developed for long-term cellaring may not be filtered, or it may produce residues. It’s in the aging process that molecules combine, forming tannin polymers. These drops to the bottom of the bottle, where they create more sediments that you will discover when drinking your glass of wine.
One may expect to find some small amounts of residues from older bottles, such as fortified wines like port and premium reds. If wine crystals are something you would want to avoid, you should opt for high-quality red wines. These don’t require any chilling for optimum quality. As they don’t go through cold stabilization, they are unlikely to form any of the crystals.
Is it Safe to Drink Wine Sediment?
Whenever you find some sediment in your wine, you shouldn’t sweat it! These are substances forming naturally in wine when aging it or during fermentation, and it’s harmless. But if the grittiness or texture of such wine bothers you, decanting your wine will have it clear while leaving the sediments on the bottom of your glass. If you’re a wine fanatic and wouldn’t want to waste a sip of it, it’s OK to consume every last drop!
So, consider it normal to have sediments in wine…
Next time you find some sediment in your glass of wine, don’t be in shock because it’s harmless and completely natural. You have options to remove that if you’re uncomfortable with them, and you’ve learned how to clear wine naturally.
Wine academics consider it a sign of quality, and you should see it as a sign of wine science. It doesn’t have to be full of funk. You have to admit that it’s incredible how the grapes take a hell of a process for you to enjoy a glass of glorious vino.