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Mar 3, 2010 05:26 PM

Caution! Glass on cork!

If this is inappropriate here, I understand that you have to remove it.

While watching tv tonight, I opened a bottle of a German import. I don't know what made me run my hand around the rim of the bottle, but it came away with crystals of ground glass. There were more down the neck. I thought I'd scraped the bottle with my wine cork, but no.

I looked at the cork. Embedded in the cork itself, where it would come in contact with the wine, was a surface of white glass shards.

I called the store at once and they said they'd give me credit, if I return the bottle. And I assume they're going to remove the wine from the shelf.

At first, they assumed I'd broken the bottle, but I pointed out that the bottle was amber, and the glass shards were clear. And the seal on the cork hadn't been broken.

I'm not going to mention the name of the wine or the store, because I know what harm that can do. And I have no idea how this happened, so I'm not about to hurt a company's reputation.

All I ask is that you all routinely check the bottle's neck, check the cork.

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  1. This happened to me one time as well. I had purchased the wine about 25 miles away in Northern Pinellas County Florida from a very large, well known, independent wine store who shall remain nameless. As I do not go up that way very much, I emailed them and asked them if they could either deliver me another bottle (they do a huge delivery business) or at least send me a voucher for next time. They never answered my e-mail. Like you say, they likely thought I broke it. I ended up pretty much throwing out the bottle. Tried filtering it, but the thought of drinking glass was too much. Needless to say, I'm a pretty big wine consumer and never went back there. Any time that shop is mentioned, so is this story.

    Robert R.

    1. Rather than glass, I suspect that those are tartrate crystals and quite harmless. I like to call them "wine diamonds". Here's more about tartrates.

      8 Replies
        1. re: carswell

          Some earlier discussion on this topic:

          Sediment in sparkling wine

          What is this stuff floating in wine bottle?

          Strange Substance on the cork?


        2. re: Melanie Wong

          That's really interesting; I've never run into that. And I'm REALLY glad that I haven't named the wine and the store, in case that's it.

          The shards were in the cork, not the bottom of the bottle, so that troubles me. My husband DID refrigerate it this afternoon, but upright.

          On the other hand, the wine was from a cooler region in Germany, which jibes with the article.

          On the THIRD hand (I'm an octopus : ) ), the shards or crystals were sharp and nearly cut my finger. I wouldn't like to think of them in my system.

          I'm going to keep an open mind here. I'll take it in tomorrow afternoon and see what the wine guy says.

          Thanks for the info. The amazing thing about wine is, you can never learn everything!

          1. re: miki

            Tartate crystals can form at any stage in a wine's life. If those in your wine formed before you purchased the bottle and while the bottle was lying on its side (as it quite possibly would be at the winery), then the crystals could very well attach themselves to the cork.

            1. re: carswell

              It's frustrating: I tried to Google up some photos, but there's nothing really to compare, besides a really grainy photo of a red. Also, my post comes up first. Holey-moley. I'm REALLY glad I didn't mention a store's name. I posted to warn people, not to hurt a business.

              Again, I'll check with the store tomorrow and see what they say.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Looking at that photo, I'm fairly sure that those were crystals. Thank you; I'd never heard of such a thing.

                  I'll be sure to call the store right away.

                  Once again, Chowhounds had the answer.

                  1. re: miki

                    So, I called the store's manager, and told him that I was sure they were crystals, and that I couldn't exactly expect him to cough up money for my ignorance.

                    He laughed and said that somebody tried to sue the store over the crystals a few years ago, and that he'd popped one in his mouth and said, "I don't think so."

                    I wonder why I've never heard of this. I've read a lot about the process of wine, although I'm no expert.

                    Again, thanks for the info, to keep me from making an ass of myself. : )

          1. The only harm that should come to that wine store is from not knowing that those were tartrate crystals.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Frodnesor

              In my story, it actually was broken glass. The top of the wine bottle had cracked, leaving glass shards in the wine after the cork was pulled. I tried to filter the shards out, but gave up. There was no way to know until opening as the foil covered up the crack until I cut the foil top off.

              Robert R.

              1. re: Robert R

                What you went through is definitely different. The bottle was obviously flawed. I can't understand why a business wouldn't take care of that.