A brief question, I will add details tomorrow. I am fermenting fruit wines in the pet-Nat style. I find the yeast and yeast activity in wines exciting, full bodied, healthy and invigorating. Drinking a living yeasty young wine full of frizzante and nourishment leaves me wondering if our fine wines aren't industrial beverages for a modern audience, succumbed to some oversanitised, glassy, idealized version of what wine should be.

My question is simple. Why do we get rid of the yeast and sediment? Why?

  • Check also en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federweisser --- a young wine, very sweet and low in alcohol early in the season, getting less sweet and stronger as it ages. Fermentation is still ongoing, and bottles only have a foil seal to let co2 escape. – Robert Jul 6 '18 at 7:38
  • @Robert. Thanks. Yes here in the Cz, burcak is very popular in autumn, and is usually from the Irsai Oliver grape. – Sentinel Jul 6 '18 at 11:12

I'm sorry, not everyone can tolerate a lot of yeast. It can cause gastrointestinal stress if you consume too much. You don't want to be around me after drinking too much hefeweizen. I do find that beer with a large amount of yeast sediment can taste muddy and of course "yeasty" and a serious detraction from drinking it. That's usually not a problem in wine. Since wine spends many months or years aging before it's bottled, the yeast will naturally settle out over time. Sparkling wine that's been aged on the yeast sediment for a while can give wine a nice bready, toasty flavor and give very light bodied wines more flavor. BUT, having a very cloudy, yeasty wine is considered a definite game stopper. I know the Pét-Nat wine thing is very "in" right now. A small amount of yeast in suspension is no big deal and is gaining popularity so just hang on there grasshopper, I'm sure things will swing around your way. Just look at the craft beer industry. About 75% of craft beers are cloudy these days. The same might happen for wine soon...

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  • Thank you so much for that delightful response. I sympathize with your hefeweizen distress. The stuff is near lethal for me. Still, I continue to wonder how the current concept of attractive wine evolved. Surely it is just a case of current mode, not something objective and essential to the substance? I will try to refine my question if i find time today. – Sentinel Jul 3 '18 at 5:34
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    Unlike beer, wine naturally falls clear after a few months. I really don't think there is a conspiracy to have only clear wine. I think it's just part of the natural aging process and people have become used to it for hundreds of years. No it's more about self stability and marketing. There is a market for natural wines, but it will be a niche at best for a while. – farmersteve Jul 3 '18 at 13:28
  • Indeed yes, the wine clears, but bottled in small half liters with the final fermentation in-bottle, it will be hard for the end consumer to pop that cap, enjoy some froth and have a clear product at the end of the day. – Sentinel Jul 4 '18 at 10:06

Some drinkers like cloudy ferments and some do not. A cloudy fermentation is, generally speaking, still active (in one way or another). When the fermentation has come to an almost complete halt the brew tends to clear. The clearing process can take some time to complete hence wines especially and beers often are left to age. The ageing often adds a certain characteristic to the brew, be that wine or beer or whatever (kim-chi!? :). That characteristic is as often sought after as any fresh/yeasty tasting brew. "Yer pays yer money and yer takes yer choice....." Many drinkers think the wine immature if it is presented cloudy - and they are often right as far as home brews go.

"Village wine" made in the Greek hills by traditional methods (yup - with feet and natural yeast) is often drunk slightly cloudy because it is often (if not usually) drunk young - often within the year it was made. They drink it in preference to (bottled) clear wine perhaps because of the low cost rather than the flavour.

On the other hand it can be the case that wine is fast fermented, filtered, plied with sulphites and possibly flavourings and bottled like some "alco-pop". As noted these are often clear "brews" too and often attract criticism for being "industrial plonk".

If one really wants to have cloudy wine one can always add some yeast from a bottled suspension kept conveniently close at hand. IMHO that is the only material difference between cloudy and clear brews. The yeast will be fresh and vigorous and, err, tasty and be full of useful nutrients/vitamins.One can add a little or a lot as one prefers. Mmmmmmmmm. But not for me.

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Apart from the fact that most people prefer clear beverages (as already pointed out above) there is also the fact that the finished beverage (be it beer or wine or whatever) has to be relatively stable in order to mature properly over time. The aging of wines and beers involves weirdly complex processes, and having a ton of sediment in the mix which may contain all sorts of Weird & Wonderful chemical and biochemical substances (which may or may not react with each other and which may or may not be the precursors to other products that may or may not be desirable, depending on a bazillion of conditions, all make for a very unpredictable aging process. Removing at least most of the crud from the wine before the lengthy maturation process begins is a good starting point for a beverage with a generally better quality.

That said, when a wine or beer is drunk "young" the above is far less of an issue, so you can get away with more.

In closing, if you enjoy drinking a wine that needs a fork and knife to get through it, why shouldn't you? Make and drink whatever works for you, and have fun! That's the most important thing as far as I'm concerned. :)

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  • :-) Yes! Is it a wet cheese or a thick wine, I ask myself. Seriously, I do appreciate the direct effect this young wine has on my body. It is more like a health food than an alcoholic beverage. :-) I literally feel healthier drinking it. Of course, that could be placebo, but placebo works :-) – Sentinel Jul 4 '18 at 10:04
  • Maybe it won't really cure whatever ails you, but at least you won't mind so much... :) – Frank van Wensveen Jul 4 '18 at 15:50
  • @FrankvanWensween well it is profoundly effective against a hangover I have learnt so far 😊 – Sentinel Jul 4 '18 at 22:06

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