|Salt cod. Click on photo to enlarge. (Internet download)|
"Bottom of the barrel" has other origins. When wine is stored in barrels, solid materials composed of grape skin fragments, dead yeast cells, tartaric acid crystals and precipitating tannins (the last from the grapes and also the wood of the barrel) settle to the bottom and are referred to as dregs or lees. Modern-day bottled wines are filtered, so there is much less of this, and thus less need for decanters, but even then there can be some post-filtering precipitates. Back in the era of unfiltered wine, the well-off got the good stuff and the poorer class of people drank wine from the bottom of the barrel. Present day usage means something being of poor quality. There is a belief that beer drawn from a fermentation tank is progressively darker toward the bottom. Not true.