Wine Trivia Tuesday | SEDIMENT
"Ooh Jim, what is that dirt in your glass? Is it safe to drink?"
"I don't know Jenny, but if it is I'll die a happy chap after that bottle of '92 Kanonkop Paul Sauer we just quaffed!"
This Tuesday's Wine Trivia highlights 'Sediment' (pronounced: se-di-ment), what it is and will it kill you?
Firstly, no ... it will not kill you!
It's actually a harmful by-product from the winemaking process, found specifically in older vintage wines, and even more so in red wines.
Sediment is comprised of non-soluble materials (for want of a better word) in wine. It's a natural substance made up of dead yeast cells (a.k.a Lees), fragments of grape pulp and skins. It's an all-natural substance, and although not harmful it is understandably not pleasant to taste should you take a large swig of the last glass of wine poured from an older vintage bottle hiding sediment at the bottom.
Over time a wine goes through a transformation in bottle. Tannins smooth out, character's in flavor and fruit change, and as part of this process some of the finer particles begin sticking together which forms the sediment. These days winemakers filter wines two, three or sometimes even four times, to help prevent sediment build up in their wines, knowing that this is a somewhat unpleasant addition to find in a bottle of wine. You won't often find sediment in wines younger than, say, 6 years old, unless the wine has been unfiltered, hence you don't often find sediment in wines at all.
Filtering wines is somewhat of a questionable process because the less filtered the wine the more natural, original flavors you'll receive from the wine. By removing these small particles from a wine it does affect the overall final product, not by much but it does.
So the next time you find sediment at the bottom of the bottle please don't assume there is something wrong with the wine. Tell your friends why its there and pop open a new bottle to enjoy while you regale them with such takes of "Sediment, and where it comes from".