Clarity August 10, 2020 10:00

What’s the deal with cloudy, foggy, hazy wine?

Wine is a glass with haze.

Wine drinkers eventually come across a wine that is not brilliantly clear in their glass.
Some may say,
“Ew, something is irregular here.”  or “Yay, I’ve got a natural unfiltered bottle.”
This appearance of haze or sediment does not harm flavors. It is not dangerous. It is solely a visual thing. That is not a “bad” bottle. 

If you age your wine for a day you may never see this.
But if you keep a collection of wines, like most wine drinkers do, you will most likely be seeing sediment and haze in older vintages.
As a wine ages in the bottle sediment will develop. When the bottle is handled sediment is suspended in the wine to create haze.

Sediment in wine bottle. This is sediment in wine bottle.

What’s going on?

During natural wine making wines become clear when ingredients that create turbidity fall with gravity to the bottom of a barrel. I call it “falling bright”. The clear wine is then decanted / racked off that sediment before bottling.

However, many wineries choose to process a wine further to assure that it will remain crystal clear under all conditions.

Fining is a process of adding a fining material to absorb, coagulate and strip elements from the wine that might affect clarity. This is filtered or falls to the bottom of the vessel and the decanting procedure is repeated.

Filtering is forcing the wine through a pad or membrane the catches particles.

A wine may also be centrifuged to spin out elements of substance.

All these processes are just for the sake of clarity. Clarity assures nothing more than a wine without haze and has little to do with overall quality, flavor or aroma.

When you alter a wine by removing components
you lose the qualities a wine possesses when it is whole.
Unprocessed wines are more flavorful, more complex and often age better.
But there is a chance a bottle may have sediment and display a haze.
This may freak out from folks. But now YOU know that haze is a sign of goodness. A sign that the wine is whole.

My wines are natural, but only a few exhibit haze. Best examples in recent years are 2016 Grenache and 2016 Grenache Blanc “Cuvèe Orange”. Interesting side note; a characteristic of Grenache as a variety is that it naturally tends to be turbid. 

More about sediment in this Article.

Glass of red wine tilted.  Cheers!