Tartrates on a Wine Cork
Acid in a wine helps to preserve it and stabilizes the color. If a wine is too mellow, winemakers will often add tartaric acid into the mix. But sometimes the wine is too acidic and the excess needs to be removed. This can be accomplished by deliberately chilling the wine before bottling. Tartrates, looking like little diamonds, can then be filtered out. Sometimes the process happens in the bottle and although these crystals are harmless, they often alarm consumers. This is one of the reasons to decant your wine. Have you ever heard someone remark that a wine needs to breathe, and then they remove the cork and leave the bottle to sit? In reality, this does little to oxidate the wine. Instead you should pour the wine, red or white, into a decanter so as to get a good splash. Watch for any sediment to move close to the neck and then stop. The sediment can't harm you, but it can ruin your impression of an otherwise delicious wine.