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Forums Home  /  General Wine Discussions   /  wine crystals??? should I still be alive???  (4 posts)

11 posts

Jan 15, 2007
9 years, 6 months ago

1wine crystals??? should I still be alive???

I am NOT an expert and I guess that's why I continually come to you. Tonight, I decorked a pinot noir that was moderately priced (about $20) and couldn't believe my eyes: there were hard pieces of wine stuck to the cork! Not only that, but the bottom of the cork looked like a wet'n wild glitter palette! Please explain! Thanks!

59 posts

Jan 15, 2007
9 years, 6 months ago

2Re: wine crystals??? should I still be alive???

Hi S-

Well i'm not a wine expert so i may be contradicted here, but i have seen this before and have noticed no tasted degradation. Actually, the odd part is I have usually seen this only on higher quality wines.

I took a brief look on google and found a few pages about it. Apparently, it's definately harmless although most people recommend decanting the wine before serving, or pouring slowly into your glass so you avoid the crystals.

Again though, nothing wrong w/ the wine.

Enjoy - j

3 posts

May 22, 2007
9 years, 2 months ago

3Re: wine crystals??? should I still be alive???

Right. The greenish crystals that you sometimes find growing on the bottom of the cork are potassium bitartrate, formed when tartaric acid reacts with potassium (both naturally present in the wine).

Some wineries will force the crystals to form before selling the wine through a process called cold stabilization. This is done purely to enhance the look of the wine.

Tartrate crystals do not affect the taste of the wine and certainly do not pose any kind of health risk.

Treat the crystals as you would any other sediment. Just let them settle to the bottom of the bottle before serving.

Captain Caveman
83 posts

Aug 17, 2007
8 years, 11 months ago

4Re: wine crystals??? should I still be alive???

Joe is exactly correct.

I'd even go farther though-- the fact that potasium bitartrate crystals (commonly referred to as tartrates, and incidentaly the source of cream of tartar) are present, probably indicates that the wine was not cold stabilized (typically a process reserved for white wines only), or was not filtered too heavily, if at all.

These are GOOD THINGS! This means that the wine was handled as naturally and un-obtrusively as possible, and left in a natural state. If you filter all of that out, yes, you will get a very stable, uniform product, but you also loose a lot of the nuances that are responsible for the wine developing additional character in bottle. That's why most of your mass produced wines don't age very well, and are regularly trounced by small artisan producers who make their products in small batches with minimal filtering and fining.