Leigh Erwin: Problems Filtering My Wine

Woman Typing On ComputerIn my last post I promised you all a more detailed explanation of what went wrong when filtering my Rosso Fortissimo wine kit. There were definitely problems filtering this wine, so here it goes…

So far, I’m basically 0 for 2 when it comes to successfully filtering my wine using the wine filter system. I’m not happy with it and I’m debating whether or not I should just get rid of it all together and try something else. I’m sure it’s mostly something I’m doing wrong, however maybe I should just take it as a sign that this particular wine filtering system and I just don’t get along and that we weren’t meant to be. I’m getting a little stressed out just thinking about it again.

This time around, I KNOW that I put the filtering system together properly. I checked the instructions about a million times and followed them to the letter.

I filled up the pressure tank to the appropriate level with water, and pumped it through the filter so as to remove possible cardboard or other paper-like flavors. That all went great! Barely any leakage through the filter! All right! It’s all ready for the wine to go through now!

Or so I thought….

I transferred some of the wine from the carboy into the holding tank/vessel and started pumping it through the wine filter. All of a sudden a TON of wine comes pouring out the filter and NOT into the clean carboy that it was supposed to go into. Seriously, the amount of wine going into the carboy was on a 1-to-1 ratio with the amount of wine just happily flowing out of the wine filter onto my catch pan like a creek in a flood.

The amount of wine spilled in the tiny bit of pumping that I did was already markedly greater than the amount of water I lost TOTAL just previously.

Shop Wine FiltersThere was no way I was going to lose half of my precious, homemade wine just to get it cleared up, so I immediately decided to stop filtering it and poured all the unfiltered wine that was in the holding tank/vessel into the clean carboy. I then went ahead and racked the remaining wine from the old carboy into the new clean carboy, cursed the wine filter to hell and back, and moved forward with the bottling process.

What the heck just happened here? I never expected to have another problem filtering my wine. The water moved through the filter perfectly and I barely lost anything, but when I sent the wine through, most of it went spilling out onto the catch pan.

My only guess is that the filter size was too small for this particular wine. Perhaps the wine wasn’t clear enough after all and what I really needed was a filter with a much larger pore size. Maybe with the smaller pore size it got clogged up almost immediately (though after inspecting the filters they didn’t look clogged — but who knows) and the wine had no choice but to find its way out through any opening possible.

Anyway, now that I am reliving this story to you all, my frustration level with this wine filter has once again skyrocketed. I’m not sure what I’m going to do exactly — be it just buy larger filters and cross my fingers that that’s the issue, or throw the whole darn thing out the window and buy a completely different wine filtering system.

Sigh…

Any help any of you could provide about using this wine filter system— or have this problem filtering my wine — would be greatly appreciated.
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leigh_erwin_bioMy name is Leigh Erwin, and I am a brand-spankin’ new home winemaker! E. C. Kraus has asked me to share with you my journey from a first-time dabbler to an accomplished home winemaker. From time to time I’ll be checking in with this blog and reporting my experience with you: the good, bad — and the ugly.

15 thoughts on “Leigh Erwin: Problems Filtering My Wine

  1. It’s been so long since I’ve filtered anything. I do know that equal tightening of the nuts while working them down in a cross pattern is of utmost importance. I can’t remember if that filter has round or square seals. If they are square, make sure they aren’t twisted.

  2. My girlfriend and I have been making wine for about 3 years now. We have never used that kind of filter. We have always used (and had very good results with )a very fine filtering bag put over the end of ths siphon hose at racking. It is the same bag we use to float our fruit at the beginning of wine making. We have never had any problems with this method. Good luck!

  3. Thank you everyone for your help. Christopher, I do not think that I tried to put much pressure on the pump. Josh and Marcie, I will try not to take filtering my wine so seriously.

  4. I filter all my wines. I use different micron filters for different wines. I love my Buon Vino Mini Jet Wine Filter! Works great EVERY time and no mess or significant losses. That filter you have is worthless in my opinion. Toss it and get the Buon Vino!

  5. Leigh,

    I love reading your blog and reliving the trials and tribulations of the early days. Your “review lesson” has helped me to correct some accidental bad habits that I picked up. Thank you. I have never filtered my wines and no longer use finning agents either. What I do is bulk age my wines in 1,3,5 and 6 gallon glass carboys. The wine needs to age some anyway, and one benefit of bulk aging is a beautifully clear wine. My final racking goes into the appropriate size glass carboy with no head room, I add the appropriate sulfites and pack it away until it’s time to bottle. I started doing this after having to rebottle a few batches of wine because I had bottled them too soon, and had some continued settling. Honestly this process was probably just born out of laziness. I have wines bottled and that I am actively drinking that are 1.5 to 3 years old, and I have wines bulking aging that are .5 to 1 years old, and wines that are being made. The process continues like the seasons. Good luck!

  6. Filtering is never easy Leigh, or fun! I filtered for years, using two systems, one similar to the one you used I believe, and the other a Buon Vino Mini Jet. Both worked, but always with much stress, mostly in the annoyance arena. I agree with the previous post to you from Ann…rack until clear and you are satisfied and forget the filtering. I have not been disappointed since. Forget the naysayers who claim that racking more than necesary will affect the outcome of your wine. I never noticed this outcome during the last six years of not filtering. And if you do, the solution is clear: do not rack mmore than necessary! If it looks clear to you, itis clear! All filtering does, in my understanding, is polish the wine. It is not meant to filter out large particles nor are you seeking to impress anyone with homemade wine. Good luck with you continuing to make wine. I enjoy your reports.

  7. Leigh,
    First, be sure you flush the assembled filter with water several times to remove any cardboard taste and smell. Taste and smell the water coming out of the filter to check it.
    The filter leakage is likely that the nuts are not tight enough. I use a 7/8 inch socket to put over the wing nuts to tighten them down. At any sign of seepage, tighten them a little more.
    Make sure the ring between the two outside pieces is properly centered. If it is caught between the frame, it will hold them apart and wine will leak. No amount of tightening will solve that problem.
    Eventually if you filter several carboys at the same time the filter will plug up and the system will leak. It sounds like you had the problem initially, so not assembling it properly or not tightening it enough is a more likely cause.
    I’m not sure why you would need to filter a kit. They usually clear pretty well if the directions are followed.

  8. As others have commented above, I do not use a filter system. I especially do not like the pressurized pump system, feeling that it is counter productive to the wine by infusing oxygen into it under pressure since this is the time that you would not want oxygen in your wine.
    I use the 18 gal. Tuff Tanks for secondary fermentation. When time to rack i use a filter container that fits perfectly in the tank opening, basically a plastic container with a mesh bottom.
    They are available in varying micron mesh sizes. When siphoning from the primary to the secondary fermenter let the hose sit in the filter container and let gravity do the work. The entering wine runs down the inside of the tank with little splashing as to not add extra oxygen at this point.
    I usually make 40 to 50 gallon batches at a time in a 55 gal Rubbermaid trash can with a food grade drum liner for primary fermentation, then secondary fermentation and bulk aging after another racking in the tuff tanks or into carboys with no head space. Bottling usually only 5 gallons at a time into 1 gallon or smaller bottles.
    If someone would want a filter system I would recommend the ones that come with a motorized pump instead of a pressurized tank to feed wine into the filter. And the pump can be used to transfer wine into containers when filtering is not needed.
    I have purchased the black transfer pump from the Kraus website several years ago, it is such a labor saver that i should have purchased it much earlier. Just let racking and bulk aging take care of the clearing of your wine and have extra time to make more wines and time with family and friends. Good Luck with all you do.

  9. i experienced the same thing like Erwin.Having filled about 100 bottles of my pineapple wine and coked them,there was a light traces of sediment in all the bottles after couple of months by using the filtering system, even though I was made sure every thing was OK. What went wrong?

    • Willie, since you filtered the wine, it sounds like what is occurring is acid precipitation. Precipitation occurs when there is more of a particular compound in a liquid than the liquid can hold. Instead of staying dissolved or saturated within the liquid, it releases as a solid substance. Take a look at the following article that discusses this subject in more detail and advises you how to treat the wine.

      My Wine Formed Sediment After I Bottled It
      http://www.eckraus.com/blog/sediment-after-bottling-wine

  10. First of all, Bill in LA: Where do you get the food grade drum liners from? Sounds like a good idea. Leigh: I would don’t know anything about the filtering system you are currently using. If you filter a lot of wine I would go with the Buon Vino Mini Jet or preferably the Super Jet. I’ve used both. Best of all (by far) is the filtering attachment for the Enolmatic bottle filter but you’re pushing $600 for this option. The Mini Jet is around $225. I make wine only from fresh grapes and often don’t filter my red wines. I usually bottle in August (about 10 months after primary fermentation is complete). Just rack a few times and let it settle. You may have a little bottle sediment but who cares?

  11. Hello! i have Mini Jet also and today i was racking my wine and had issues with the filters plugging up and the wine would not discharge into the carboy. I stopped several time and cleaned the mini jet to make sure nothing got inside and still had the same issue. my thought was maybe i needed to use different filters. I used #2 filters. I did also have wine spraying out the top and the bottom of the filters at times and i figured that was because the filters were plugging. I have racked several other wines and never had an issue. Can someone please help me here on what I did wrong?

    • Ron, there’s no way to be sure, but it sounds like your wine still needs more time to clear. Those filter pads are extremely fine, even the #2’s, and will not tolerate very much yeast and such still floating in the wine. They are designed to take things out that are smaller than what the naked-eye can see. You might try treating the wine with bentonite to make sure all that is dropped out, then try filtering again.

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