What Are The Crystals On The Bottom Of The Cork?

Paul, I recently had a red wine se­lection from your club that showed little crystals on the bottom of the cork. What are they and are they harmful ?

As wine ages in the bottle the satu­ration level of the natural ingre­dients changes. Very often in both red and white wines tartaric crys­tals will form on the cork and or otherwise settle on the bottom of the bottle. As a result of changes in temperature these crystals are formed and are often mistaken for a flaw in the wine or even shred­ded glass. The reality of these little gems is that they are harmless and in fact, prove that a wine is totally natural and untampered. There are ways to minimize or even eliminate this physical reaction. But this re­quires introduction of chemicals to the wine, and many winemakers opt not to do this.

As a purist, I find it much more acceptable to decant or filter out the crystals and enjoy the wine in its natural state rather than introduce chemicals that may upset the natu­ral balance and/or shorten the age­ing life of the wine.

Next time when you look at the cork and see nicely formed crys­tals, don’t be alarmed. Even if these are ingested they are harm­less. Go ahead and decant or just pour carefully and enjoy a nice pure bottle of wine.

PK jr.

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