Cloudiness / Haziness
All wine starts off cloudy, that’s a fact. During winemaking and after the grapes are pressed, the juice is fermented, and the wine is run off the skins, stems, pips et al., therefore there’s plenty of smaller particles left behind. Wine is generally allowed a period of rest, to allow this sediment to settle, however this only does so much. Winemakers must filter and fine a wine (to different degrees depending on the winery/winemaker preference) to give it the clear appearance most consumers are looking for. It’s worth noting that the process of fining is achieved by adding fining agents to a wine which may include egg whites, bentonite (a form of clay), casein (derived from milk) and isinglass (derived from the bladders fish).
Personally, I like a red wine with a slight cloudy appearance, it just means the wine has gone through less filtration than other wines. Over-filtration can reportedly strip it of a huge portion of its flavor, but an excessive amount can be a problem. I have to say “reportedly” as I’ve never tasted the same wine with varying levels of fining/filtration applied. I can only guess…
How to tell if your wine is affected:
Simple….the wine will be cloudy, but obviously not all cloudy wines
If the wine is seriously cloudy, it could be mycoderma bacteria an/or spoilage yeasts. Very few whites are unfiltered/fined, however I have come across them, but never have had a problem as far as quality goes.
Your course of action:
You have an ultra-low chance of coming across this problem, I’ve only actually ever seen it once, but you should know it when you see it! If you really do think there’s a problem, ask the Sommelier if it’s “normal” for the wine to be that cloudy. If you bought the wine from a retailer, jump on the winery website and search the wine. If the wine is supposed to be slightly hazy in appearance, there will usually be some verbiage in the “tech notes” that indicates so.
Click here for the rest of my —-> A Guide to Wine Faults posts.