Help! My Homemade Wine Is Cloudy!

Cloudy Peach WineI have a Apple-Peach wine that is six months old. It’s done fermenting, so I used bentonite thinking it would clear so I could bottle. The bentonite didn’t clear at all. It’s not oxidized (I’ve been there and really worked this time to make sure that didn’t happen). I also tried the Kitosol 40 on a six-gallon batch and that didn’t clear either. However, the Kitosol 40 was a batch I bought last year. Can I treat both batches now with the Sparkloid Hot Mix?Name: Becki P.
State: Nebraska
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Hello Becki,
I’m going to assume that the fermentation has actually completed and you have verified this with a wine hydrometer. Sometimes a fermentation can carry on extremely slowly, to an unnoticeable degree, and stir up sediment that will make the wine cloudy.
Becki, if both the bentonite and the Kitosol 40 had no effect on the wine, then I am fairly confident that what you are dealing with is a pectin haze. If this is the case, then there is no fining agent that will be able to clear your cloudy wine.
Fining agents such as the bentonite and Kitosol 40 are designed to collect very fine particles and drag them to the bottom of the fermentation vessel as sediment. These particles can be finer than flour and still be cleared from the wine with these wine ingredients.
But a pectin haze is not caused by particles that make the wine cloudy. It is caused by the molecular make up of the wine. Just like lemonade or apple juice can be cloudy or clear, so can a wine. The cloudiness is caused by pectin cells that are molecularly bound to the liquid. There is no way for a fining agent to collect them and clear them out of the wine.
Pectin is found naturally in any fruit. It makes up the gel that holds the fruit’s fiber together. With most fruit the pectin is broken down by naturally-occurring enzymes during the wine fermentation. This makes the resulting wine clear. But some fruits have higher levels of pectin than others. Peach is one of them. Others are strawberry and plum. Apple has a moderate level of pectin.
When making wine from these fruits additional enzymes may be needed to help breakdown the larger volume of pectin cells. All our fruit wine recipes include the addition of pectic enzyme for this reason.
If you did not add pectic enzyme to your wine recipe then this would be another clue that points to the fact that you are dealing with a pectin haze. If you did add pectic enzyme, then you can still have a pectin haze, but this is not the normal result. It is a matter of how much pectin is in the wine verses how much pectic enzyme is being added.

Here’s What You Can Do To Test For A Pectin Haze:

Assuming you have a 5 gallon batch of wine, take a sample portion of it, like a half gallon or even a gallon, and add a full dose of pectic enzyme to the wine. When I say full dose, I am referring to the amount you would add to the entire 5 gallons. This will concentrate that dose into your smaller sample.
Blend the pectic enzyme evenly throughout the wine, and let it sit for at least two weeks, maybe even a month. What you are looking for is to see if the pectic enzyme in concentrated doses will clear the wine sample. If it does, add the sample back to the rest of the batch and give pectic enzymes a few weeks to work on it. If no improvement is made add another full dose of pectic enzyme to the entire batch and give it some more time.
If your homemade wine is still cloudy then you will have to re-examine the possibility that there is a minor fermentation going on or that the fining agents you chose were just not the right ones for these particular cloudiness. In all honesty I don’t believe this will be the case. There have been many cloudy homemade wines that have cleared up brilliantly have a little pectic enzyme and some patients.
Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

4 thoughts on “Help! My Homemade Wine Is Cloudy!

  1. I had the same issue with a strawberry pyment, I added the bentonite, and other fining agents to no avail. So I racked it again and added 2 table spoon of pectic enzyme to the 5 gallon batch, and a week later I start to see the results, it is clearing as it should’ve done a month ago; not as fast as I wanted, since I was ready to bottle the batch, but it is getting there, I guess it is now a waiting game, or can I add some more pectic enzyme to speed it up a bit? Will it affect taste/aroma?
    .
    I do have a question however, once this clears up appropriately, do I need to add the potassium metabisulfite and sorbate all over again before filter/bottle?
    Thanks

  2. Chas, glad to hear your pyment is finely clearing up. As for your question, you do need to add potassium metabisulfite to the wine, again, right before bottling, but no more potassium sorbate is needed.

    • Rene, no filtering a wine will not remove a pectin haze. Wine filters are designed to make an already clear wine appear more polished not to clear a wine of cloudiness. You might want to take a look at the article below on wine filtration, it has a section on the limitations of a wine filter.

      Filtering Wine
      http://www.eckraus.com/wine-making-filter

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