Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny

Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Dear Dr. Vinny,

What makes sediment in wine?

—Steve A., Federal Way, Wash.

Dear Steve,

Sediment—or “the dregs,” as some kids call it—is a byproduct of winemaking. Most of it is made up of bits of grapes and seeds, dead yeast cells, crystal-like tartrates, or molecules called polymers. Sometimes winemakers filter or “fine” a wine to remove these solids, but even after being filtered and fined, it’s not unusual for wine to have sediment.

Sediment is also a result of aging, like wrinkles and grey hair are a result of giving wine advice. As wine ages, science happens, and phenolic molecules combine to form tannin polymers that fall out in the form of sediment. That’s also what causes an aging red wine’s color to fade—those phenolic molecules include pigmentation. I typically notice these changes around the 10-year mark for wine. To separate your wine from its sediment, you can check Decanting 101.

—Dr. Vinny

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.