Wine Word of the Week: Sediment

By Kori ~ December 18th, 2008.

winepeeps_wotw_2-1b2This week’s Wine Word of the Week is sediment.

Official definition from Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine:
Sediment is the solid material which settles to the bottom of any wine container, whether it be a bottle or a vat, tank, cask, or barrel. This sediment is a very heterogeneous mixture which at the start of wine-making consists mainly of dead yeast cells, the insoluble fragments of grape pulp and skin, and the seeds that settle out of new wine. At subsequent stages it consists of tartrates and, from red wines, phenolic polymers, as well as any insoluble materials added to assist clarification or to facilitate filtration.

Sediments in bottled wines are relatively rare, and usually signal a fine wine that has already spent some years in bottle. So unaccustomed have modern wine consumers become to sediment that many (erroneously) view it as a fault.

Layman’s terms from Kori:
Sediment is the “gunk” that settles to the bottom of a wine bottle. When you pour a wine that contains sediment, you may notice the sediment in your glass as you pour the last bit of wine from a bottle or it might catch around the shoulders of the bottle. While it may not be aesthetically pleasing, there is nothing wrong with a wine that contains sediment. It generally indicates a wine that has been aged a while. To prevent the sediment from ending up in your glass, it is a good idea to pour an older wine (or any wine you suspect contains sediment) through a filter into a decanter before serving.

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