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What Causes Sediment in Wine?

What Causes Sediment in Wine?

Every so often, I open a bottle of wine and am greeted by:

So to start, there’s nothing wrong with the above picture.  Sediment is a completely normal thing when it comes to red wine. If you get it in white wine, unless the wine was aged for a significant period of time, something has gone wrong.

What causes sediment in wine?

So sediment in wine can come from two main sources.  Neither is necessarily bad, but like so much in wine, it’s nice to know more, than less.

First, if you’re aging your wine, that usually does lead to some level of sediment.  Tannins can combine with phenols as time goes by (more on Phenols here).  Normally, people who drink much older wine than I do, report this starts happening in earnest around the 10 year mark.

Secondly, they can be caused by any number of things within the wine itself.  Left over yeast cells.  Bits of grape skins. Grape seeds. ETC ETC.  Yes, even bits of dirk.  (if that disgusts you, a quick reminder, wine is an agricultural product, like the strawberries your kids ate at breakfast).  If a winemaker filters his/her wine, it’s to remove this kind of stuff.  For white wine, this is much, much more common than it is in red wine.

So what causes sentiment in wine?  There’s a couple of possible things, neither of which is an issue and neither of which should cause any level of concern, even if it does.

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