Wine Talk

Snooth User: UWSNapaLover


Posted by UWSNapaLover, Jan 26, 2010.

talk to me a little about Tartrates in red wine?

is someone is selling a bottle that you know has tartrates in it, do you still buy it?

how does it affect the wine?


Reply by napagirl68, Jan 27, 2010.

From my understanding, tartaric acid lowers the pH of wine (increasing acidity), thus reducing the probability of bacterial spoilage in a wine. It can also add some tartness to the taste of a wine. Most wineries use a form of tartaric acid. I suppose your preference would be dictated by your personal taste and personal preference for organic wines. Tartaric Acid, made from grape wine, is considered "organic" by most: made from malic acid, is considered synthetic, therefore non-organic by most. Again, I personally would not out of had reject a wine supplemented with tartaric acid, as a form of this is usually necessary to prevent spoilage.

Now, if you are talking about the potassium bitartrate crystals that form on the corks of some aged wines due to tartaric acid, the appearance of these crystals are harmless, and many times just indicate that a wine (with some level of tartaric acid addition) is aged. Snooth experts may weigh in on this further... but I have never rejected a wine based on the appearance of these crystals... I base it on my own palate.

Reply by amour, Jan 27, 2010.

A shipper of German wine to the United States and England,
told me that he had a thousand cases of wine held up in
Chicago and was told that the reason was the broken glass in the bottles!

Guess what! Tartaric acid crystals........were in the bottles of wine.
They often form in white wine in cold weather.
Harmless, natural, indeed!

Especially in the United States, it is difficult to convince people,
that sediment in wine is harmless, that white crystals are harmless.
Sediment is actually a good sign. What it means is that the wine
is natural and has not been tampered-with.

It is possible to avoid sediment by pasteurization, or putting
through fine filters or other denaturing processes but the wine
will no longer be natural and definitely will no longer age properly
and develop its potential.

Reply by UWSNapaLover, Jan 27, 2010.

the reason I ask is due to an email I got from Burgess Cellars doing a special selling a bottle of their 1998 and 1988 Cab for $60. They mention that the 88 has tartrates or "wine diamonds."

I really love Burgress Wine, so i am thinking about it....

Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Jan 27, 2010.

I swear I posted this already, so if it shows up twice, sorry.

1988 was a famously bad year in CA. Tartrate crystals or not, that's no deal.

Reply by amour, Jan 27, 2010.


Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Jan 27, 2010.

Amour, you think he/she should buy an aged bottle from the worst vintage of the decade? That bottle should've been consumed a loooong time ago, in my opinion. This is a 100% pass.

Reply by UWSNapaLover, Jan 27, 2010.

Thanks GirlDD

appreciate the feedback

Reply by amour, Jan 27, 2010.

Until one tastes does not know for sure!

For $60. I can afford to take the chance even in those circumstances....
when it comes to something that I so love!
Thank you.

We are all different...May all ideas contend!

I am forever a risk-taker....even with wines! CHEERS!

Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Jan 27, 2010.

There are risks and there are bad investments. Why spend $60 on a wine that's almost guaranteed to be a ghost of itself? Those 88s were early maturers to begin with, and Burgess wines, while fine, aren't reknowned for their ageability.

Your mileage may vary, of course, but as someone very familiar with this vintage and this winery, only a fool would throw his money away on this.


Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 27, 2010.

I'm taking issue with the value of the 88's, though without tasting the wine I remain agnostic on that front but I bought Burgess cabs from 79-86 and still have a few hanging about. While they have not aged into typical Cali Cabs they have aged into ringers for Bordeaux of like age. I like how these aged examples show. Having said that I will say that the releases of 93 and 94 do not exactly exhibit the same level of complexity as these older vintages. Winemaking and weather seem to have influenced the wines but I am very happy drinking the old dogs. Girl, if you ever make it down to NYC maybe we can share a few. You going to the Mohegan Sun winefest this weekend by any chance?

Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Jan 27, 2010.

Burgess, in a fine vintage, can be fantastic. Personally, I think '88 was straight terrible across the board. Many of the 88s I've tried barely made it to the mid 90s, let alone fifteen years later.

I tasted this wine in a vertical a few years back. The host didn't even want to pour it after opening. I asked him to do so, so some of the newbs could come to understand faded glory. I have no tasting notes, unfortunately, but remember dumping my glass after sip number one.

I won't be at Mohegan; that festival is a shit-show. Also, I don't have a good connection there and I refuse to pay to go to tastings (unless it's something very rare or quite aged).

Reply by GregT, Jan 27, 2010.

Girl drink drunk - this was a thread about tartrate crystals, not aged wine which is too bad because your comments really deserve their own thread. Some older wines obviously can be fantastic. And wines from unsung regions and even vintages as well. But sometimes they're just dead and it's like necrophilia opening and drinking them. I had that problem not long ago drinking a series of wines from the 1970s that were way past their prime IMHO and which were most likely excellent ten years earlier. The question regarding aging wine and what to expect from a good one vs one that's over the hill is kind of interesting. In any event, $60 isn't cheap and I also wouldn't advise someone to drop that kind of money on something that I didn't know was going to be good.

UWS - the presence of tartrate crystals is not a problem. Many winemakers chill their wine to cause these to precipitate. However, those are mostly a cosmetic issue and wouldn't affect my decision to purchase a wine.

Reply by penguinoid, Jan 28, 2010.

I guess I may as well add -- as everybody else has noted, tartrate crystals are harmless and not a problem. But it's worth remembering that sometimes, small problems on a high-speed bottling line *can* apparently lead to small bits of broken glass ending up in a wine bottle. These do look just like tartrate crystals. I've heard it happens, but it's certainly very rare.

Still, best not to drink the tartrate crystals with the wine, best leave them in the bottle ;-)

Reply by VegasOenophile, Jan 28, 2010.

They're harmless and don't adversely affect the wine. You can use the tartar to make a sauce! hehehe If you can get a discount due to crystalization, use it and buy away!

Reply by zufrieden, Jan 28, 2010.

Check. Tartrates are harmless - though I would not recommend licking them off the top of the cork - assuming you have mined a few wine diamonds in that region.

Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Jan 28, 2010.

GregT, I was just trying to keep a fellow wine lover from wasting his/her cash on something that's a definite ripoff. I think the OP has figured out that tartrate crystals are harmless (although pretty) from the umpteen other posts here. :)

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