Sediment in Champagne?

22nd February 2024

Sediment in Champagne

We expect our bottle of Champagne to be clear, fresh and bursting with fruitiness though from time to time this will not always be the case. A wine should be clean and clear and certainly devoid of cloudiness / particles, though there will be exceptions both purposely and unintentionally.

What is sediment? If the bottle of Champagne that you have opened is not crystal clear from the first pouring to the very last then there is likely to be sediment causing this. Sediment is harmless if consumed and will likely be dead yeast cells that were part of the second fermentation process that were not correctly extracted or they might even be tiny fragments of the grape pulp from the initial grape juice extraction that were not eliminated by filtration. Some will see these as bad wine making and a negative.

We can also see sediment following a reaction with the cork of the bottle; “Proteins from the Champagne can combined with the corks tanins@ChampagneJacquinot, and this can occur immediately or over a longer period of time. Many Champagnes are aged in the bottle after disgorgement, especially by collectors, and a tiny sediment is to be expected.

Storage errors will also be another reason that your Champagne will have sediment and appear cloudy. Depending on how and for what length of time you have stored your Champagne, factors such as light and heat can affect the visual appearance of the wine in your glass. Oxidisation due to cork shrinkage or storing the Champagne in direct sunlight (lightstrike) will have effects such as speeding up the aging process, allowing air to escape and enter the bottle or for the cork to become brittle thus depositing particles into what was originally clear wine.

Unfiltered Champagnes will generally mean that the fining filter process has been bypassed to keep the wine vegan standard. This fining process can involve the usage of fish / milk / eggs / gelatin which aid in the extraction of excess presence of yeast / sediments. For the Champagne production process, this fining process is completed to give the wine a clear / clean finish. Bypassing this process might give the wine a very tiny cloudy character though most times unnoticeable unless the bottle has been stored for two weeks or more and a tiny layer of sediment can be spotted at the bottom.

Is sediment safe to drink? Yes they are safe because anything added to the Champagne in the production process will be made for human consumption. The wine may not be performing great if for example it is corked or was poorly stored and some will advise not to drink purely for a poor tasting experience.

Christopher Walkey

Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.