What Is Wine Filtering?
When you begin diving into the world of winemaking, one of the steps in the process that you need to consider is wine filtering. Not everyone wants their wine filtered, and that may be a perfectly fine option when you plan to age it before bottling. There are even high-end wineries that now highlight “unfiltered wine” on their list of premium offerings. However, there are plenty of good reasons for opting to filter. Before we get to those, let’s talk about what, exactly, filtering is.
Wine Clarification and Stabilization
Whether you make your wine from grapes or juice, you are going to end up with insoluble particles — such as tannins, pectin and even pieces of grape skin — in the mix. This excess material can remain suspended or drift to the bottom as sediment, giving it a cloudy appearance. Clarifying the wine removes this appearance either through chemical or mechanical means. Fining is the term used for the chemical process, while filtering is the mechanical one.
The fining process relies on chemistry to deal with those excess particles. Once you add a fining agent to your product, you get to sit back for a bit and watch the magic happen. The agent forms bonds with the particles, which creates larger and larger particles as time goes on. The bigger size allows for easier and faster precipitation out of the wine solution.
Fining removes more excess matter than filtering because it can deal with small particles like proteins, polymerized tannins and phenols as well as larger particles. One thing to note with this process: the fining agents are usually made from animal products. For vegans, this is an issue, so it’s something to be aware of if you are a vegan or you may share or sell your wine to anyone who is. Alternatives do exist. Bentonite clay is the most common of these.
Filtering wine removes the excess matter by trapping suspended particulates in a filter, thereby improving its clarity. It does more than just making your wine look good in the bottle, though. Granted, that’s the reason many home winemakers opt to filter, but the benefits go beyond appearance. Removing the sediment actually makes your wine more stable. It won’t referment in the bottle as quickly as unfiltered wine. If you are aging your wine, filtering causes it to age more quickly, which means you get to enjoy it sooner!
Filtering does have some limitations in that it won’t remove as much excess matter from your wine as fining does. If you have a really cloudy wine, or if you want a wine that won’t turn that way when exposed to heat, you need to fine your vino before filtering. When you filter your wine, you need to decide on the level of filtering you desire. A fine filter removes more particles than a coarse filter. Using a coarse filter, however, can make an already clear wine appear more vibrant.
Fining and Filtering Products
MoreBeer! has everything you need for your home winemaking adventures. We offer a large selection of fining and filtering products, so you can create the perfect vintage! We are happy to discuss all things winemaking with you, so if you have any questions at all, give us a shout at (800)600-0033.