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 Clarifying Agents

Clarifying Agents

BENTONITE

Bentonite, an absorptive clay that is highly recommended for white wines as it inhibits haze caused by naturally occurring proteins. It’s best to add Bentonite to the must just before the start of fermentation.

To prepare a solution, the Bentonite must be added to a volume of warm water, in ml, at approx. 10-15 times its weight. (i.e., 30 g in 375 ml). The solution should be stirred vigorously for a few minutes and allowed to stand for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. One half the amount should be used if adding at the end of fermentation. Follow also for sparkling wine at one half the amount.

CASEIN

Casein is a phosphor-protein of milk, and should be used primarily in white wines.

It should be added at a rate of 50-100 grams to the hectoliter. Casein powder is dissolved in a quantity of cold water then quickly added to the wine while stirring vigorously. A Bentonite treatment is recommended following the casein fining. Care should be taken during racking as some people are allergic.

EGG WHITES

Fining with egg whites was traditionally used in clarifying red wines and is still in use in modern winemaking techniques. It is appropriate for wines that are highly tannic or wines undergoing barrel aging and is principally used with wines that are made from grapes. For an egg white fining solution, you must separate the whites form the yolks and then add it to salted water, a pinch of salt per egg white dissolved in water before the whites are added.

The rate is 5-10 grams/hectoliter, or 1-2 egg whites per 100 liters., The whites can be added directly into the barrel, mixed well, and should be racked in 1 to 2 weeks.

GELATIN

Gelatin is a good fining agent for red wines, but not recommended for white wines, especially if the white wine has a low tannin content. To use in white wines, tannin powder must be added before the gelatin.

The rate for fining with gelatin is 1-5 g/ hectoliter or up to 25 g/hectoliter for wines having a higher concentration of suspended particles or having a higher pectin content. Prepare by soaking in approx. 25 times its weight in warm water, i.e. 2 g of gelatin in 50 ml of water for 20 liters (approx. 5 gal), then mix with a little wine. Mix into the wine and rack off sediment in 2 to 3 weeks time.

ISINGLASS

A pure gelatin from the air bladders of fish. Recommended for white wines. One disadvantage is that it produces a heavy deposit.

The rate is 1 ml/liter/ the powder has proven to be more effective at a rate of 1-3 g/hectoliter. The liquid should be diluted in a small amount of the wine before being stirred into the wine. Powder should be dissolved in cool (61F-64F) and stirred thoroughly. Let stand for 15 minutes and then stir again for 2 minutes. Rack from sediment in 2-3 weeks.

KIESELSOL

A silicate suspension used in conjunction with gelatin to increase effectiveness. Excellent for both red and white wines. Especially effective on wines with a low tannin content.

The rate is 25-50 ml/hectoliter. Replace fermentation lock and after 24 hours add gelatin directly to wine. Gelatin for white wine should be 100 ml and for red wines it should be 50 ml. Stir gently into wine and rack off sediment in 1 to 2 weeks.

PECTIC ENZYME

Pectic enzymes are added to wine to remove any excess pectin, especially for press-run wines, since they are richer in pectin. Use for both red and white wines. It can also be used at crushing time to increase the yield of free run juice and act as a preventive agent.

The rate is for white wine 1-2 g/hectoliter and for red wine 2-4 g/hectoliter, by dissolving in cool water. A minimum temperature of 80F is most effective.If still cloudy after fining, it is an indication that there is an excessive amount of pectin. To test for pectin, extract 50 ml of wine is added to 200 ml of methanol. If a whitish sediment forms, the wine contains excessive pectin and should be treated again with pectic enzyme. Mechanical filtration may be required if problem persists.

SPARKOLLOID

An alginic acid salt, used primarily for red wines. Its disadvantage is it will throw a heavy sediment causing an appreciable loss of wine. Also, fining with sparkolloid requires a much longer period of time, up to 6 months, to allow proper sedimentation of particles in suspension. To speed up the fining process for red wines, it is recommended to follow up with another fining after one month.

The rate is 10-40 g/hectoliter. Bring water up to a boil in an enameled, Stainless Steel or other heat resistant pan. The powder should be added to the water and stirred. Leave to boil for 20 minutes while stirring to dissolve all the powder. Add hot sparkolloid to wine and stir. Allow to clarify for at least 6 months before racking. For use in white wines it will be necessary to added tannins to it several days before fining if tannins are too low.

GRAPE TANNINS

Key component in the structure and taste of wine. It is also required if the wine is to be aged for an extended period of time. Grape tannins can be used to facilitate fining if using gelatin or Sparkolloid with wine that has a low tannin content. Add tannins a few days before fining.

The rate is 10-30 g/hectoliter of wine or up to 50 g/hectoliter when fining with gelatin where the pectin content is high. Dissolve in warmed wine and add directly to batch.

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