Funny story: if you do a Google image search for “wine diamonds” the very first image is mine. I had done an article on tartrate crystals (AKA wine diamonds), way back on my old blog. Turns out a fellow wine blogger had used my image for their own post on tartrates. They were also kind enough to credit me under the image, so this story is totally provable and I’m not just making it up. (But seriously why would I make up such a boring and pointless story – the image isn’t even very good.)
Anyway. Wine diamonds. Go read what I wrote for Vue about them. Or don’t – I’m about to summarize it all here.
Sometimes you’ll find these in your wine glass and they kind of look like they want to hurt you. But they’re actually totally harmless.
Ever heard of Cream of Tartar? It’s a white powder used in baking, and it comes from wine: tartrate crystals naturally occur in the winemaking process and end up coating the insides of barrels. Savvy winemakers will scrape out their barrels and sell the crystals to be refined and made into Cream of Tartar.
Even more winemakers have opted for cold stabilization – basically lowering the wine’s temperature for a period of time in order to get the tartrates to precipitate out before bottling. It’s quite literally an example of the wine industry deciding that consumer education be damned – they’ll just fix the problem (not that it’s actually a problem) and avoid dealing with a bunch of questions later on. If only they had jumped on board the anti-TCA train as fast.
But not every wine goes through this process, because not every winemaker bothers with it. In fact, some think that cold stabilization isn’t a great thing to do as it alters their wine unnecessarily – winemakers who follow a more naturalistic philosophy tend to eschew any processes that aren’t completely necessary.
So, if you find something that looks like sugar crystals in the bottom of your wine glass or stuck to the underside of your cork, don’t be afraid – drink away.