Handy - The Sauvignon Blanc Crystal Solution
Getting Ready to Bottle Sauvignon Blanc
Have you ever put a bottle of white wine in the fridge or freezer… and then forgot you put it in there? Later, on down the road when you come back to it, you’ll see a bunch of weird, white crystal stuff in the bottle.
When your bottle of white wine gets too cold, potassium bitartrate crystals form. These crystals fall out of the wine and look really ugly in a clear glass bottle of, say, Sauvignon Blanc. By the way, do you know the common term for potassium bitartrate? Hint: it's an ingredient in many cookies like Snickerdoodles. We'll give you the answer at the end of this article.
Garrett Martin, our Snickerdoodle loving winemaker and resident wine-scientist, is moving closer and closer to bottling our new vintage Adobe Road Sauvignon Blanc in mid-March, along with Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache.
So, let’s get back to those crystals. Garrett is hard at work right now making sure you won’t see them if your wine gets super cold like when it freezes or almost freezes (this could happen in shipping, for example; your fridge isn’t the only culprit).
Temperature is vitally important all through the process leading up to bottling -- we want to be sure the wine in your bottle of Adobe Road Sauvignon Blanc looks and tastes its very best. Here's what Garret does in the tank.
First, he brings the Sauvignon Blanc in the tank down to 29 degrees Fahrenheit -- that’s colder than water freezing. He holds the wine at that temperature and then begins to bring the wine back up to temperature (about 60 degrees) before filtration and bottling (remember -- we’re bottling in mid-March). If the wine is too chilled when it’s filtered, the flavor is stripped away.
Liquids are more susceptible to oxidation when cold, so Garrett goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure that oxygen is not introduced to the wine. It’s like the story of the three bears: Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear (just right). Too cold and the bottle could end up being overfilled and then when the wine comes up to room temperature… boom! You could have an explosion. If the wine is bottled when it’s too warm, the liquid will shrink and then you’ll have a bottle that looks as if it’s not filled properly.
That’s how science and expertise combine to make sure that the temperature of your wine is always just right so that your wine looks and tastes exceptionally good, proving that from vineyard to bottle, the winemaker's hand is important, even on this frosty tank of Sauvignon Blanc.
Here's the answer to our question... The common term for potassium bitartrate is cream of tartar.