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The Crystals Won't Hurt You!
Tartrate Crystals in Wine...

Have you ever pulled a cork on a bottle of wine and seen what looked like crystals stuck to the bottom of the cork? Or, have you ever emptied the last of a bottle of white wine to find crystals at the bottom of your glass?  Don't panic. They are tartrate crystals that are completely tasteless, odorless and harmless.  So don't worry, it's not bits of broken glass stuck to the cork or harmful sediment in the bottom of your glass.  It actually means that what you are drinking is probably a higher quality wine. 

Tartrate crystals are formed when the tartaric acid in the wine combines with the potassium (found naturally in wine) under cold temperature conditions forming the salt, potassium bitartrate. Many wineries add a step in processing called cold stabilization.  They cool the wine down to about 30 degrees Fahrenheit and the wine is held at that temperature for a period of approximately two to three weeks. The excess potassium bitartrate will then crystallize and precipitate out. Then they filter the wine to eliminate them.

The higher quality a wine is, the more likely it is to have tartrates. This is because most fine wines are not cold stabilized or filtered in order to preserve the intricacies and subtle character of the wine.  So, the next time you find crystals in your wine, just be careful pouring the last glass.