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Clearing and Fining

Webster's dictionary defines fining to mean "to become pure or clear". For wine, fining means to
add an adsorptive or reactive substance to reduce or remove the concentration of one or more undesirable components. Fining agents are used to achieve clarity and to improve color, flavor and physical stability.
 
Fining agents can be grouped according to their chemical nature and mode of action.
1. Earths: bentonite
2. Proteins: gelatin, isinglass, casein, albumen
3. Polysaccharides: agars
4. Carbons
5. Synthetic polymers: PVPP
6. Silicon dioxide (kieselsol)
7. Others, including chelators and enzymes _
 
To achieve consistent results, it is essential to follow the directions for the preparation, temperature, mixing and timing 
The effectiveness of fining agents can be reduced by 50% or more by improper preparation. Use fining agents designed for wine and follow the supplier's or manufacturer's directions. 

 

Bentonite (agglomerated fining agent):This agent covers a wide spectrum of hazes. It is a montmorillonite clay which is especially good at adsorbing positively charged particles. It is the best agent for protein instability and it is easy to prepare. Its major downside is that it leaves a fairly bulky lees. Normal use is 1 to 2 grams per gallon unless used during fermentation when up to 5 grams per gallon may be used. It should be dispersed in a small amount of water for 1 or 2 hours, then thinned with wine and stirred into the batch to be treated. Settling will usually be complete within a week. Protein removal is best with lower pH wines and not as effective in high pH wines. It is used mainly with white wines.

Casein (fining agent):Specific fining agent for white wines. A small dose can be used for clarification. Preventive treatment for maderization. Curative treatment to remove color from stained wines. Eliminates undesirable phenolic compounds. Dosage is 0.4 to 4.0 grams per U.S. gallon, depending on the application.

Gelatin (powder, 100 bloom) (fining agent):A traditional fining agent used to clarify whites or reds and to soften tannins or remove color in reds. Because it removes tannins it finds use in reds which are too astringent. It is best used during the first six months or there is a risk of increasing the perception of bitterness. When used with white wines, use an equivalent weight of tannin or kiesolsol to prevent a potential gelatin haze. Normal usage is 0.5 to 1.0 gram per gallon with whites and 1.0 to 2.0 grams per gallon with reds. To prepare, dissolve in warm water, (up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit) and add to the wine while still warm. The lees should be removed within two weeks. Unflavored gelatin, found in grocery stores is an acceptable substitute.

Isinglass (powder, Drifine) (fining agent):A traditional proteinaceous fining agent derived from fish swim bladders and used mostly with whites and sparkling wines, but will also remove harsh tannins in reds. Unlike gelatin it does not need counterfining with tannin or kieselsols. Drifine is a pre-hydrolyzed form of isinglass which requires about 30 minutes hydration, at or near 60 degrees Fahrenheit, instead of the typical 2 to 6 days for standard isinglass; nor does it need pH adjustment Normal usage is 0.01 to 0.10 gram per gallon.

Sparkolloid (powder, hot mix) (fining agent):A proprietary alginate based fining agent which covers a broad spectrum of hazes. It requires a little more care in preparation than bentonite, but generally gives excellent clarity, requires no tannin addition and is quite neutral in respect to flavor changes. Normal usage is 1/2 to 1-1/2 grams per

Super Kleer (liquid) (fining agent):A two part fining agent containing Chitosan and Kieselsol. It is available in 150ml packets which is enough material for 6 gallons of wine. It is added directly to the wine followed by vigorous stirring. The wine is racked off the sediment about 7 to 10 days later. May be used with reds or whites. Shelf life is less than a year in the original package and much less once the package is opened.

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