I have 2 batches of fruit wine in the secondary ferment stage, soon to be in for 6 weeks. when it comes to clarity, how clear should wine be before bottling? and if not clear enough, is there a product I can put in it, or should I let it sit a little longer? Pear and peach.
Name: Mr. Sellers
The short answer as to how clear your wine should be before you bottle is it should be crystal clear. It should look like a solid hunk of glass when in the wine bottle. There should not be any murkiness or cloudiness to the wine at all. Anything less is a compromise in the quality of the wine.
When you see a haze or cloudiness in a wine it is usually caused by yeast cells or particles still floating within the wine. The wine has not finished stabilizing or has not stopped fermenting.
The little packet of wine yeast that was added at the beginning will regenerate itself by about 100 to 150 times. That’s what you are are usually seeing when a wine doesn’t look clear. Wine yeast is finer than flour. Much finer than can be seen with the naked eye, but collectively it can give the wine this dull appearance.
If the wine is bottled in this condition you will typically end up with bottles of wine that will eventually have dusty deposits at the bottom and a yeasty, sulfur-like smell.
If you are not sure if the wine is clear enough to be bottled, the obvious thing you can do is wait. Give the particles more time to drop out on their own. There is nothing wrong with waiting. The wine will age nicely in bulk. Patience can be a virtue in this situation, however if you are not so patient there are some things you can do to speed things along.
As far as to how to clear a wine, the first thing you can do is treat it with bentonite. This is a wine clarifier or fining agent that is commonly used among wineries. Many wineries will automatically add it to the wine directly after the fermentation has completed. Bentonite is effective in dropping out significant amounts of floating yeast, excessive tannins and other proteins. What it is not good at doing is putting a final, brilliant polish on the wine. This is the glassy-look I referred to earlier.
To get a final polish, I would suggest using Kitosol 40. This is another fining agent that is particularly good at giving the wine a brilliant appearance, but unlike bentonite it is not good at dropping out large amounts of particles. This makes it a good partner to use after the bentonite — the yin to the yang so to speak.
When done the wine should look beautiful. It should have a pure look about it. If not an opaque wine, light should glisten and glimmer through it. This is how clear wine should be before bottling.
Hope this helps you out.
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.