Wine Filtration 101

You want to start a heated and emotionally charged discussion on a controversial topic? Ask a group of amateur winemakers for their thoughts on the impact of filtration on wine. Chances are you will get diametrically opposed views on the pros and cons of filtration, and, quite often, those views and opinions are not necessarily based on scientific data, but rather on traditional beliefs and myths. The reality is that the vast majority of commercial wines are filtered, except for some ultra-premium wines. And wine marketers have muddied the issue by labeling their high-end wines as unfiltered — with a price to match — suggesting that unfiltered wines are far superior to filtered ones. How so? Even Émile Peynaud, one of the greatest enologists of the twentieth century, commented on “the sensory consequences of filtering” in his book “Knowing and Making Wine.” According to Peynaud, “the mechanical action of filtering has never had a negative influence on quality.” And Ribéreau-Gayon, et. al., state in their classic work “Handbook of Enology: Volume 2 – The Chemistry of Wine, Stabilization and Treatments”