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Conventional Wisdom – Filtered vs. Unfiltered Wines

I ‘love’ these two words – Conventional Wisdom – especially when used together to talk about the wine industry! There are MANY conventional wisdoms that folks hold as ‘truths’ or ‘near truths’ just because . . . For instance:

Conventional Wisdom would say that an unfiltered wine is better than a filtered wine. The filtering process ‘strips’ the wine and makes it ‘less’ than it would have been . . .

Well, this is NOT necessarily the case anymore. Old school plate and frame filters – comprised of a number of ‘plates’ filled with diatomaceous earth – did have a tendency to ‘beat the wines up’ fairly well and did SEEM to strip the wine of some of its characteristics. I say ‘seem’ because I myself was never involved in any ‘apples to apples’ trials looking at the same wine under both conditions . . .

Newer filtration methods, especially cross-flow filters, have changed this game altogether. With these types of filters, the wine does not go ‘through’ a media (diatomaceous earth), but instead is moved at relatively high speeds in two different directions. The ‘pressure’ built up forces very minute particles to go through tiny pours in ceramic membranes, thus ‘sterile filtering’ the wines. I have done numerous ‘apples vs. apples’ tastings, and in most cases, you can not tell the two wines apart. In addition, in preference tests, the filtered versions are oftentimes preferred to the non-filtered ones . . .

The other caveat is when you bottle a wine unfiltered, you leave open the risk for microbial activity to continue in the wine anytime during its life – ESPECIALLY if it is ever exposed to higher temperatures. So let’s say you purchase a wine from an East Coast store and you’re on the West Coast . . . and that wine is shipped via UPS ground . . . And it sits in the back of a UPS truck for a good couple of hours . . . . and it’s hot outside. Guess what – the wine you consume very likely will NOT be the wine the winemaker INTENDED you to drink . . .

Just something to think about the next time one of your wine friends says ‘This wine is ‘unfiltered’ so it’s really good!’ . . .

Looking forward to hearing your comments on this as well . . .

Cheers!

2 responses to “Conventional Wisdom – Filtered vs. Unfiltered Wines”

  1. This blog rocks! I gotta say, that I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read.. <a href="http://wiki.hudson-ci.org/display/~bill-bartmann&quot;

    -Bill-Bartmann

  2. Excellent site, keep up the good work. I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,

    A definite great read.. 🙂

    -Bill-Bartmann