Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
I have heard that you can use an unbleached coffee filter instead of decanting to filter out the sediment. Any thoughts? Obviously you would only do this at home without guests.
—Mark G., Midland Park, N.J.
I open plenty of bottles of wine, and a good share of them are older wines with sediment. I never worry about the sediment—a steady hand and a clean decanter are all I need to separate the wine I’m serving from the gunk at the bottom. If possible, I set my bottles upright for a day or so before serving to make sure that most of the sediment settles to the bottom, but even in a pinch, I just don’t sweat the sediment, and at most, maybe 2 or 3 ounces of sediment-heavy wine are left over in the bottom of the bottle.
Some of my friends, especially those who collect Port, are much more worried about sediment. Let’s be clear—the stuff that makes up sediment (dead yeast cells, bits of grapes, phenolic molecules) is harmless and not contaminants. But some folks just don’t like the way sediment can muddy a wine with an unpleasant grittiness. I get that.
My friends who go to more extremes to remove sediment will employ, yes, unbleached coffee filters, or several layers of cheesecloth. Some of the sediment may still pass through this extra filtering, but my friends feel that they’re saving another ounce or two of drinkable wine.