When reading this title, many winemakers will think “Why bother, allowing my wines to stand, followed by racking has always been good enough for me”.
Bouquet and taste are of course very important, but the appearance of a wine
is always 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 can also be made to shine like this.
By following a few simple rules winemakers can produce brilliant wines quickly and easily.
Although many wines may clear on their own accord, there are certain reasons why some still remain cloudy long after the end of fermentation.
After fermentation and racking, wines can still have a hazy appearance. Hazes originate from all fruit and vegetables used in winemaking and they are can also be present in concentrates used with kit wines. Country wines, in particular, can produce complex hazes that are more difficult to clear. Technology can prove that the finest wine haze can take up to 60 years to settle and winemakers are obviously unlikely 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 present which causes the haze and carries a minute positive electrical charge, which prevents them from joining to form larger and heavier particles. 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, there are in some wines 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 be attracted to and reach the haze particles.
To obtain brilliantly clear wines it is advisable to consider the following steps during the winemaking process: –
1. Treat for PECTIN (or starch).
2. Add FININGS.
3. FILTER for professional brilliance.
pectinaze-bottleAdd PECTINAZE (or similar) since it can be assumed that pectin will be present to some extent in all wines, especially country wines. To remove pectin treat with PECTINAZE 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.
Add WINEFINE or VINCLEAR 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 denatures rapidly, with consequent loss of fining properties, when exposed to temperatures above 20C, even for short periods of time.
WINEFINE sachets are ready mixed express wine finings that have a long shelf life and are easily applied straight from the packet. The sachets can be stored at room temperature and can clear a wine in as little as 24hours. VINCLEAR sachets are available in freeze-dried powder form. This advanced product can be stored almost indefinitely at any temperature and still remain 100% active. VINCLEAR is a highly effective fining reagent, containing freeze-dried isinglass
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.
Add BEER BRITE finings. Home brewers are always looking to achieve a high degree of clarity in their beers and lagers. In the past, beer was judged by flavour alone, however, with the lighter beers now becoming more popular, clarity is also an important consideration.
Many home brewers have found it necessary to consider some form of clarification for their beers. Filtration is not possible for the home brewer due to the relatively low alcohol content of beers and the associated preservation difficulties. Therefore the choice of an effective fining reagent is a simple means of producing a sparkling clear beer and also producing a sediment that sticks to the bottom of the bottle or barrel.
Many forms of beer fining reagents are available, including gelatine and Irish moss. Isinglass, has, however, long been the preferred fining agent for the commercial and home brewer due to its versatility and high success rate. As mentioned earlier, there have been problems with the storage and keeping of isinglass and also its temperature sensitivity. These problems are now eliminated by using the new freeze-dried BEER BRITE fining reagent.
Conventional dry finings are difficult to mix and take at least a day to prepare, whereas BEER BRITE is ready for use within 15 minutes.