What difference does it make to filter a wine? After grape juice undergoes fermentation, wine is often filtered both to take out the final, infinitesimally small yeast particles or bacteria that may make a wine unstable (and lead to off-putting aromas) and to enhance the wine’s luster. Some importers, however, have championed unfiltered wines (e.g., Kermit Lynch, Joe Dressner, and now many natural wine importers) because they believe that filtering extracts not just particulates, but flavor. They contend that wines made cleanly, with balance of pH and acidity, will be stable. In that case, filtering extracts compounds whose contributions to the final wine are important to that wine’s identity.
We have the opportunity to do our own little tasting experiment to see how filtering affects the wine’s brilliance and flavors. One of our favorite producers, Angelo Negro, makes one of our favorite whites, the Arneis, both filitered ($17) and unfiltered ($18). We recommend that you try the unfiltered both unshaken, then again after giving the bottle a good vigorous shake to get those lees (yeast cells) distributed throughout the wine. Give both versions a try against the filtered Arneis. Which do you prefer? Let us know!