Don't fear the sediment

On Friday night past I opened a bottle of Côtes du Rhône we got as a sample from a supplier. A really fantastic wine once you got past the funky nose. Melt-in-your-mouth silky tannins, juicy ripe fruit and it just sang with Nigel Slater’s vegetarian mushroom lasagna we’d picked from his Kitchen Diaries book – a must purchase for any foodie.

I normally decant reds, even for twenty minutes, but I didn’t in this case. It performed well from the outset, but there was a considerable amount of sediment at the bottom of the bottle. It didn’t really bother me much at all, but I’ve gathered from experience that for a lot of people it’s a bit of a turn off.

In this instance I could relate to that a little. The further we got down the bottle the more ‘gritty’ it seemed to feel on the palate. I probably should have run it through the decanter’s sieve but most of it just ended up resting at the bottom of the bottle anyway. No harm done, still a very enjoyable drinking experience.

The important thing to note is that sediment is harmless. If anything, it indicates that you have a wine of quality in your hands. Today most commercial wines are filtered, often to extremes, but I think the sediment shows wine as it should be, in a very pure form. It also shows there has been good extraction from the grapes.

The sediment which develops in red wine is formed from tannins and other solid matter that gradually falls to the bottom of the bottle. The presence of this material helps give the wine character and complexity, but you don’t have to leave it in the wine when you serve it, as I do. Pass the wine from the bottle into a decanter via a sieve and it’ll be sediment free. Easy as one, two, three.


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