Strange Sediment Question
I was recently out to dinner where we had a bottle of Wild Boar Viognier (I believe this was the name but i could be mistaken). After the wine was poured for the table, two of my friends noticed strange objects in their glasses. When they first pulled them out, in the dark at the table, it looked like insects, and not wholly unlike what popped out of John Hurt's stomach in the film ALIEN.
The waitress took it on a napkin and looked at it in the light, at which point it turned out to be sedimented sugar that had crystallized in the bottom of the bottle. The sommelier came over and pronounced this normal. Because the wine was so cold when opened, I detected nothing with it, but at this point when i re-tasted it, it did taste slightly over sugary, like a bottle that has been opened and left in the fridge for too long.
Was the sommelier right and this was "normal" sediment or are my suspicions correct that something was off with the bottle?
Sugar is so soluble in wine that it will never crystallize.
What you saw was crystals of cream of tartar (potassium hydrogen tartrate, KHT). This harmless substance (naturally present in all wine) will form crystals when the wine is chilled. Most wineries avoid this by prechilling the wine ("cold-fining") so the KHT will precipitate out in advance of bottling. The crystals will often entrap other components of the wine and thus might not appear colorless. Usually they are colorless -- sometimes people think they are pieces of glass in the wine.