I have made delicious peach wine in the past, but last year, the peaches were ripe when I was out of town. My son cleaned, sliced and froze them in freezer bags til I could get home. It’s been 10 mos. and the wine refuses to clear – I’ve tried everything. Was pretty sure I had read you could freeze fruit til ready to use, but maybe not? That’s the only thing I remember doing differently…”Blue Moon” Peach Wine anyone?
Freezing the peaches would not have anything to do with the wine being cloudy. I think this has more to do about using pectic enzyme. Freezing the fruit will only help to break down the fiber allowing you to get more flavor from the peaches. Freezing the fruit is something we recommend doing all the time. So even though this is the only apparent difference from other times you’ve made this wine, this is not the cause of your peach wine being cloudy.
Assuming that the fermentation went just fine, the number one reason for a peach wine to be cloudy is because of something called a pectin haze. Peaches have a considerable amount of pectin in them as compared to other winemaking fruit. Pectin is the gel that holds the fruit’s fiber together. It has a milky appearance to it when removed from the fruit.
With most fruit the pectin is broken down and cleared during the fermentation. The wine yeast produce enzymes that help to do this. Most fruit wine recipes will also call for pectic enzymes as additional insurance to see to it that all the pectin cells are broken down. You can read more about it in a previous blog post, Why Do Some Wine Recipes Call For Pectic Enzyme? When using pectic enzyme the pectin cells are broken down into a substance that is clear and watery.
If all the pectin cells are not broken down then they add to the cloudy appearance of the wine. In the case of peaches sometimes not all the pectin gets broken down. Sometimes this is caused by a stressed wine yeast, but it can also be caused by using pectic enzyme that is old or not using enough pectic enzyme. If any fruit is gong to expose this error it would be the peach wine due to its abundance of pectin cells. Other fruits high in pectin are plums, strawberries and persimmons.
It is important to understand that a pectin haze can not be cleared out with fining agents such a bentonite, isinglass or Sparkolloid. This is because these types of clarifiers are primarily used to clear out particles. Pectin is not a particle, but rather, something that is molecularity bound to the liquid. No fining agent can touch it. It needs to be broken down through enzymatic activity. That is why using pectic enzyme is so important in these situations.
You can try adding more pectic enzyme to the wine, but it may take a while for the full reaction to take place. The enzymes work much more slowly after the fermentation when the activity is not present. Patience my be required on your part. It could even take several months.
If you would like to verify that it is a pectin haze you are dealing with you can take a small sample of the wine and add extreme doses of the pectic enzyme to it to see if it will clear the wine: say, a teaspoon to 4 oz. to 8 oz. of wine. You should see a reaction with in days, if not hours, at this dosage.
Hope this information about using pectic enzyme 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.