Waiter, there’s a snow globe in my wine! [tartaric crystals]

What’s happening in this glass? The winemaker practices minimal intervention and uses no sulfur. So one theory is refermentation, which can come from excessive heat exposure. Or it could be a tsunami of tartaric crystals, which can be caused excessive by cold exposure. What do you think? And more importantly, would you drink this wine?

If they are tartaric crystals, consider this from the Oxford Companion to Wine: “Only the most informed consumers appreciate the harmlessness of tartrate crystals in bottle. Although tartrates precipitated in red wines usually take on some red or brown pigments and are commonly regarded as mere sediment, in white wines they look alarmingly like shards of glass to the uninitiated. The modern wine industry has in the main decided that tartrate stabilization is preferable to consumer education.” All right, then, we can consider ourselves educated! More on cold stabilization and the “wine diamonds” of tartrates can be found here.

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7 Responses to “Waiter, there’s a snow globe in my wine! [tartaric crystals]”


  1. Drink or let settle. Tartrate precipitates with time and is perfectly safe.


  2. Who knew tartrates could be so festive?


  3. Yes, those are tartrates. Eventually they might clump together in bigger chunks. The crystals themselves become nucleation sites for the crystals to grow. If it were refermentation, you would possibly see CO2 bubbles, a film, and or some turbidity. It might also smell like something died in the glass.


  4. That’s kind of beautiful actually, whatever it is. I’m inclined to lean toward tartrates as well. I also see a hair in there though! Could be Leprechaun dandruff…


  5. I don’t know if he still does it, but years ago every case of Olivier Merlin’s Macon La Roche Vineuse came with a short, very polite letter explaining that cold filtration had not been performed, and that the wine might contain crystals, and that they were harmless.


  6. Ooooh pretty.

    How did it taste? Thanks for the info on tartrates


  7. Chunky wine is the best!


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