After all, as LENNDEVOURS evolves...I'm hoping to add more educational content.
In his email, he asked:
Don't worry my wine-loving friend. These crystals are not ground glass...and they aren't even sugar either. Keep washing them with water and you'll notice that they don't dissolve. Sugar would.
What are they then? They are potassium-bitartrate crystals.
And they aren't a flaw in the wine at all. They don't affect the flavor or color in the least...and they won't hurt you either.
I'm not the Alton Brown of wine, so I won't get too deep into the science at play here, but here's a brief run-down:
As grapes grow, they pick up minerals from the soil, including potassium. And, the riper the grapes get, the higher their levels of tartaric acid.
So, when certain wine is cooled, either sitting in a cold warehouse or
just before serving (CdB's Novello is a light, low-to-no tannin wine so
it can take a chill) the potassium and the tartaric acid get together
to form these potassium-bitartrate crystals.
I've seen them quite often on the wet end of a cork but you'll also see them on the bottom of the bottle.
For those of you unfamiliar with it, Novello is a red wine, made in a style similar to Beaujolais Noveau, but these crystals (sometimes called wine stones) can happen in both red and white wines.
If you see them in a bottle of white wine, do not decant the wine. I never decant whites because I think a lot of white wines lose aroma and character with air contact. Ever notice that white wine glasses are narrower and lead to less surface area? Just pour carefully as you get to the last glass or so.
For reds, you can either pour carefully or decant. Nine out of ten times I'd probably just pour carefully, especially with a gulping wine like Novello.
Fun Fact: Castello di Borghese has the oldest vines on Long Island (planted in 1973). They were planted as Hargrave Vineyard...and the Hargraves sold to Marco Borghese in the 1990s.