Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Getting Your Wine to Clear

Tom Blair asked how he could get his pear wine to clear.

Pear and apple wines are notorious for not clearing easily.  The two main products, known as fining agents, that are used for clearing the wine would be bentonite or Sparkolloid.  Both should be easily available from your local wine supply store.  Bentonite is a clay that is granular.  It needs to be mixed with warm water in a fairly large ratio of water to bentonite because it expands a lot.  For pear or apple wine, I would roughly triple the standard amount recommended on the package .  Sparkolloid is mixed into water as you cook it very slowly, on the stove, mixing constantly, for about 30 minutes (unless your supply store has cold mix Sparkolloid which is not always available).  You then pour it hot into your wine and mix well. Personally, I think the hot mix is more effective.  Complete directions will be on the package.
Each of these products works in different with positive ions and one with negative.  Since it will be impossible for you to know which is causing your haze, I suggest using the bentonite first and, if that doesn't do it, try the Sparkolloid.  You need not rack (transfer the wine to a clean, sterile container) off the one to add the other.  When you go to rack after settling, try not to stir, jar or move the container as these products are very fluffy and will go back up into the wine and you will need to let it settle again.

Just as a side note, both bentonite and Sparkolloid are natural products and not chemicals and are the standards to use when trying to clarify any wine.  Bentonite is a montmorillonite clay that produces tremendous negatively charged surface area and is principally mined in South Dakota and Wyoming.  Sparkolloid is derived from the berries of the ash tree.

Here is a little tip on mixing things into wine in carboys (glass jugs).  Buy a baster that you will dedicate to your winemaking.  Sterilize it as you would your other equipment.  Using the baster, take a small portion of the wine out of the carboy so you can pour in the product you are mixing in.  Put the baster in as far as you can, sucking up the wine.  Then just keep squeezing the bulb gently and you will easily be able to mix the wine without adding a lot of air.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your wine expertise. I look forward to reading more tips in your blog. Keep up the great work!