Forgoing the Filter

I usually start my day with a pot  cup of coffee and end it with a glass of wine.  Little did I know the two beverages have much in common. This week, I put the two together for the first time outside of brunch and (a) loved it, and was (b) pleasantly surprised by the similarities between my favorite stimulant and depressant.

On the sunniest day NYC has seen in awhile, I was invited to hang out with Newton Vineyards’ winemaker, Chris Millard, and some other nerds to combine my (and apparently what are others’) two favorite substances under the glass canopy of August Restaurant’s garden.

Ready for anything, I downed a doppio on my way, and headed straight for the chardonnay upon arrival–to balance out my perkiness, of course.

Seated behind a mildly intimidating eight-glass spread interspersed with artisanal cheeses and the like (God, I love wine-tasting fare) Chris gave the ins-and-outs of filtered vs. unfiltered wine, highlighting Newton Vineyard’s Napa Valley babes.

Here’s the low-down: most wines (like coffees) go through a big filter before being bottled (or served), and this is why you rarely see chunks of sediment floating across your glass unless you’re drinking really old wine.  Unfiltered wines (and coffees), on the other hand, have sediment, but gravity is allowed to pull it to the bottom of the bottle, so ingesting little grape chunks is rarely an issue.

While removing sediment is the positive aspect of filtering, the process also removes some of the great smells and tastes of good wine–the same way a coffee filter drains out some of the beans’ best qualities.(Check out This guy  for more nerdy, scientific details.)

I tasted several of Newton vineyard’s unfiltered varieties alongside their filtered counterparts, and was surprised by the magnitude of difference between the two (Like drinking Italian espresso one minute, and cheap airport coffee the next). My favorite was The Puzzle, a Bordeaux blend that varies year-to-year.  I sipped the 2008 variety, a crimson delight that was richly fruity and velvety–and also just too good to spit, etiquette be damned.


Unfiltered Wines Uncorked

Laura Loves: The Puzzle (though its $80 price tag makes it a big splurge…at least until I find a sugar daddy).

Newton’s unfiltered chardonnay–an oaky crowd-pleaser with sweet apple flavors (Think: Johnny Appleseed wandering through a sunny forest).

Fun Facts: Newton was one of the first vineyards to popularize unfiltered wines. They also have a sweet old-school British phone booth on their property–You know, to call the Queen.

Unstable unfiltered white wines can turn to bubbly in the bottle–Surprise party!

Coffee has terroir too!

140-Character summary: Unfiltered wine=more body/aroma/flavor/chunks. Harder to make. Higher price tag. More barrel time. Often worth it. #ihadextracharacters


  • March 12, 2012
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