filtering wines

Unfiltered?

 ~Plate and Frame Filter~

The process of filtering wine, especially red wine, is often a hot topic of discussion in the winemaking world.  Research from UC Davis has shown that at the molecular level no aroma or flavor compounds are removed when red wines are filtered.  The problem that this study, as well as others, does not address is the role that filtration plays in mouthfeel.  Wine experts and enthusiasts alike will attest to having a richer, fuller mouthfeel in an unfiltered wine. And it makes senses intuitively that if you do not remove the small particles in the wine, they will add weight and increased texture to finished product.

I know that winemakers fear the event of microbial spoilage if they leave the wine unfiltered, but I would like to know what percentage of wine that is unfiltered actually spoils. You can find lots of data on percentage of wines that get cork taint but numbers of spoilage incidents aren’t as easy to come by.Additionally consumer perception of particulate in their wine usually has negative connotations, or it did in the past.  Wine consumers are becoming much more educated and may know that “stuff” in their wine is okay and maybe favorable.

Personally, in blind taste tests I always prefer the unfiltered vs. filtered wine when it is the same exact wine.  Unfiltered wines seem to becoming more prevalent these days as the word “unfiltered”, in my experience, is being seen on more wine labels.  As with other labeling techniques, unfiltered indication seems to be trying to link filtration practices to quality.  To that point let me say that by writing this post I am not saying that all unfiltered wines are better than filtered ones – I know that isn’t the case at all.

My overall experience with unfiltered wines is that they are richer, have fuller mouthfeel, and have a more intense flavor profile, contrary to the UC Davis study. So my question to the wine blogosphere is what YOU think of the filtration process and your experiences with unfiltered wines.

Obviously I didn’t delve deep into details of the filtration process with this posts so any questions will be welcomed to elicit further discussion.

Cheers!

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Categories: filtering wines, wine industry issues | 2 Comments