Demi-John

(c) 2000
Harris Filters

Home Winemaking
Clearing Wines

Reasons why wine will not clear.

  • The wine could still be fermenting.
    Check with the hydrometer.
  • Most country wines and some kit wines suffer from pectin hazes.
    It is prudent to assume that pectin is likely to be present and add Super Enzyme (or a pectic enzyme)  at the time of adding the yeast.
  • No finings have been added.
    Even if a wine appears clear, dissolved protein can still precipitate later to form a haze or sediment and can interfere with the correct maturing of the wine. Use Vin Clear sachets or liquid finings and put in a cool place.
  • Finings have been added at the wrong temperature.
    The wine must be cool during the fining process (18C, 64F or below) and the temperature must not be falling. Cool the wine overnight and when thoroughly cool, add the wine finings as instructed.
  • Fining gel too liquid.
    Isinglass finings, the most widely used, changes from a gel to a runny liquid if stored  too long in a warm place. The liquid has very little fining action, though if added to the wine, it can be removed completely by a further addition of fresh gel. Always store liquid finings in a cool place. However, Vin Clear sachet finings are a special product that does not suffer from any of the disadvantages of the liquid isinglass finings. This  product can be stored almost indefinitely at any temperature and still  remain 100% active because it’s origin is from freeze-dried isinglass.

The home winemaker can produce brilliant wines quickly and easily by following a few simple rules.

 

 

 

 

 


CLEARING  WINES

Many winemakers will think when reading this title, why bother, allowing my  wines to stand, followed by racking has always been good enough for me. Bouquet  and taste are very important, but the appearance of a wine is normally its first  attraction. Take a glass of water from the tap, hold it up to the light and  observe the brilliance... we take this for granted if not for drinking! Wines  should also be made to shine like this.

Firstly, it is necessary to understand the reasons why some wines remain  obstinately cloudy long after fermentation has completed.

After fermentation and racking, wines often have a hazy appearance. Hazes are  basically formed from all fruit and vegetables used in winemaking and are also  present in concentrates used in kit wines. Country wines in particular, can  produce the most complex hazes, which are more difficult to clear. Technology  can prove that the finest wine haze can take up to 60 years to settle and few  winemakers are not likely to wait that long, hence the need to speed up the  operation.

There are normally millions of microscopic particles in the wine, of all  shapes and sizes that are too light to settle and are constantly floating in the  wine.

It is the vast number of particles present which cause the haze. These  particles carry a minute positive electrical charge, which prevents them from  joining to form larger ones. However , by adding a substance with an opposite  charge (you will recall from science lessons that unlike charges attract) this  enables the particles to grow, become heavier and then fall as a  sediment.

This is the principle of fining and is a vital step in the effective clearing  of wines.

Unfortunately, in some wines there are stubborn hazes that carry no minute  electrical charge. These are pectin and starch hazes where a jelly like film  surrounds the haze particles making it more troublesome to clear. This produces  a type of frog-spawn effect in the wine, making it  difficult for a fining reagent to reach and be attracted to the haze  particles.

To obtain star-bright wines easily and quickly it is necessary to consider  the following basic steps: -

1. Treat for PECTIN (or starch).
2. Add FININGS.
3. FILTER for  professional brilliance.



1. It is reasonable to assume that pectin will be present to some extent in  all wines. To remove pectin treat with Super Enzyme (now available in  sachets) preferably at the time of adding the yeast, or during fermentation.  However, if added later you should then keep the wine in a warm place for at  least 3-4 days.


 

2. Add VIN CLEAR wine finings (or similar) to the wine whenever it  remains cloudy after fermentation and racking. Many types of wine finings are  available, but for hundreds of years isinglass has been a most reliable  treatment for clearing both beer and wine. Although isinglass is convenient to  apply in the liquid form, there has always been concern over its shelf life.  From the time of manufacture, it begins to deteriorate, a simple analogy being  that of a charged battery that begins to discharge upon standing. Isinglass  liquid finings also denature rapidly, with consequent loss of fining properties,  when exposed to temperatures above 20 C, even for short periods of time.

VIN CLEAR sachets are now available in freeze-dried powder form. This  new product can be stored almost indefinitely at any temperature and still  remain 100% active. VIN CLEAR is a highly effective fining reagent,  containing a mixture of both freeze-dried isinglass and silica hydrogel. The  latter is normally only available to the commercial breweries.

3. To achieve professional brilliance,  it is worthwhile considering a wine filter, which is extremely useful and simple  to use. A filter will remove minute particles much smaller than the human eye  could ever possibly see.

The principle of wine filtration is straightforward.... a barrier is simply  placed across the path of the wine . The barrier (better known as a filter pad)  comprises a material having countless thousands of pores that are small enough  to trap the greatest possible number of haze particles, whilst still allowing  the wine to pass through. Filter pads are highly sensitive products, having  small pores that perform much better when used for polishing a reasonably clear  wine, typically after following the earlier steps 1 & 2. After polishing  through a filter kit, this will produce a wine with true colour and professional  brilliance.