Last week I looked at wine 'color'. A second facet of a wine's appearance is its clarity. Most wine drinkers expect a wine to look clear and bright, not dull or hazy. However, a slight dullness or haze is not necessarily a sign of a major flaw in the wine or even a bad thing.
Most wines go through at least one if not more processes post-fermentation to ensure that they are free of any tiny particles visible to the eye. These processes include stabilization, fining and filtration.
A slight haze or dullness in a wine suggests that the wine was minimally handled pre-bottling. Wine is a natural product containing various natural deposits that will precipitate out over time. Therefore, most wines are treated to prevent this happening in the bottle. However, there is a belief that everytime you 'treat' a wine, you are also stripping out something integral to to the wine itself.
Increasingly wine producers try to minimize or even refrain from these procedures, particularly fining and fitration, in the aim of protecting the integrity of the wine. Everyday wines tend to be more thoroughly treated to ensure crystal clarity, while fine wines are more gently treated or minimally treated.
Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW (Master of Wine), is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant.
Previous Wine Words
• Wine Words: Clarity
• Wine Words: Color
• Wine Words: Complexity
• Wine Words: Texture
• Wine Words: Aromas
• Wine Words: Alcohol
• Wine Words: Body
• Wine Words: Tannin
• Wine Words: Acidity
• Wine Words: Minerality
• Wine Words: Length and Finish
• Wine Words: Sweetness
• Wine Words: Style
• Wine Words: Oak
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