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What’s that sediment in my glass?!?

Wine sediment

Question from Nick: Why is there sediment at the bottom of some bottles of wine but not others and what is it?!?

In a nut shell: It’s a by-product of the ageing process so will only form in old bottles of red wine. It’s totally harmless but best not to consume it because it doesn’t taste very nice – muddy and bitter.

In a clam shell: The sediment that falls to the bottom of your bottle of red wine is organic matter from the grape and is totally harmless (although tastes pretty rank). This type of sediment only forms in red wine that has been aged for several year (so that bottle of 2012 red wine you bought last week will definitely not have any muck at the bottom). It’s produced by the tannins (what gives red wine, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir, that chalky mouth drying feeling) and other solid stuff that, with time, fall to the bottom of the bottle.

Although it looks pretty gross and tastes yuck it actually helps give the wine character and complexity as it ages in the bottle (so it’s a good thing) but just make sure you remove it from the wine before drinking or those delicious sips might end up tainted by muddy bitterness.

To remove the sediment from the wine before drinking it, firstly, stand the bottle up for a few days if you’ve been lying it flat like you should have while aging it, then decant the wine by slowly pouring in into a decanter or another bottle/jug. This will allow the sediment to catch in the shoulders of the bottle. You’ll need plenty of light to do this as it helps if you can see through the bottle. That way you’ll see the clarity of the liquid and know when to stop pouring, and then enjoy that treasured bottle of wine you’ve been saving for so long. Hope it’s not corked!

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