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Fining Wine

Fining Wine.  What's it For?

by Michael Davey © 2011

As filtration will only remove the “chunkier bits” like grape particles and dead yeast cells from wine, fining with an agent is also needed to clarify and stabilise the wine and to remove the really “wee” soluble bits that filtration misses. Fining removes these “wee bits” as they can have an adverse effect not only the “look” or clarity of the wine but also the flavour.
These soluble “wee bits” are proteins that can be heat unstable and lead to the wine appearing cloudy and even cause the wine to brown or lose colour, not good outcomes if you are a winemaker. Fining white wines will also remove any pink tinges derived from certain grape varieties. Fining will also soften out white wines made from varieties such as viognier and chardonnay that have had extended skin contact or have been aged in oak and need an astringent edge taken off them. For these reasons all white wines will receive fining.

Red wines are fined for the same reasons as white wine, but not all red wine receives fining. The use of fining in red wines is mainly used to soften out a wine where there is an in balance of tannin and or oak flavours. Red wines fining will remove some of the tannins that can make the wine bitter and also take some the harsh oak edges out, consequently leaving more obvious fruit flavours.

These agents work by binding proteins in the wine together, and as these agents are heavier than wine they take these bound particles with them and settle to the bottom of the wine tank or cask.

There are a number of agents that are used in fining, eggs whites, milk powder, gelatin, isinglass, bentonite and PVP. Gelatin is used to soften the bitterness in red wine however egg whites and in their powdered form that contain the protein albumen are more commonly used for this purpose.

The protein casein from skim milk is used to remove the harsh edges from white wines. 

The collagen from isinglass which is obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish is becoming a very popular fining agent for certain wines, as it does not take colour out of the wine as does casein. This product also has the added advantage of leaving more finished wine after fining than other agents.

Benotite is a fine clay and is one of the most commonly used fining agents due to a great effectiveness in absorbing these unwanted proteins and some bacteria.

Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVPP) is a water soluble polymer that acts like a normal protein and collects unwanted particles as it makes its way to through the wine. PVPP is used to fine white wine mainly by larger wineries.
The process of fining is quite simple.  In the case of fining with egg For example, the white of one egg is mixed with a little water and salt then poured into a barrel of wine and mixed through.  The sediments are captured by the mixture and will then fall to the bottom of the barrel where they can be easily separated from the wine.

If you’re interested in purchasing Organic Wine Michael Davey from WineSeek can help.  Visit http://www.wineseek.com.au for a great selection of Australian and international wines at remarkable prices.

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