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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What The Heck Is Floating In My Wine?!

"I am kind of a novice on wines, but I wanted to check one thing with you -there are a lot of little floating pieces of ??? in the Sauvignon Blanc - is this normal? Acceptable? Safe for human consumption?"

With the emergence of Spring, we naturally turn toward lighter-bodied wines, served slightly chilled. This month, the Bacchus & Venus Wine Club featured the 2011 Bluxome Street Sauvignon Blanc for this reason.

 Bluxome Street Winery

At first glance, this Sauvignon Blanc appears completely normal, but if you take a closer look you may see little crystals floating about in your wine and covering the cork. Have no fear loyal wine drinkers, you are observing tartrate crystals! These white crystals (that look like sugar) are a natural byproduct of wine's tartaric acid. They are tasteless, odorless and most of all, harmless. But where do they come from? 

A Close Inspection of Tartrate Crystals

Tartrate crystals are found in wines that have not been cold-stabilized at the winery. "Cold stabilization" is a purely aesthetic step in the winemaking process. The crystals are a natural product of the wine, and form when the wine is chilled.

Potassium Bitartrate

Fun fact: Tartrate cystals in winemaking are called Potassium Bitartrate. However, in cooking it is known as cream of tartar. 

When serving these wines, treat it as you would any other wine with sediment. Let the bottle sit upright, allowing the sediment to settle. Then, decant slowly, making sure to leave the crystals at the bottom. Most of all, enjoy!

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