Blech wine additives
January 18, 2012 10:36 AM   Subscribe

When making homemade wine and specifically kits, the clearing of the wine often uses Kieselol followed by Chitosan. One of these adds a flavour to the wine that I absolutely find revolting. What could I use instead?

I have made quite a bit of wine this past year from Kits and every time I add these as clearing agents I dislike the flavour. Can I not add them? Obviously that would create a wine with a foggy feature but will it be that bad? Has anyone else had this experience? I very much dislike shellfish and I wonder if that is what the problem is.

Any home winemakers have any suggestions advice? Experience with not clearing or using other things like egg whites etc?
posted by mrgroweler to Food & Drink (10 answers total)
The home winemakers I know either use isinglass or don't bother, depending on the wine.
posted by jedicus at 10:45 AM on January 18, 2012

Irish moss is a standard "fining" or clarifying agent in home brewing. It's a red algae which causes the free-floating proteins and other solid molecules to clump together and settle out.

I don't know whether it can be used to good effect in winemaking but it might be worth an experiment.
posted by gauche at 10:48 AM on January 18, 2012

Best answer: Looking into it a little, it seems like you've got some options (including isinglass, which jedicus mentions). Irish moss may not work because (I forgot this) it is added to the wort boil, and there isn't an equivalent step in wine-making.
posted by gauche at 11:10 AM on January 18, 2012

Response by poster: Isinglass is also a fish byproduct, so I might be hesitant with it. It does look like a few might work. There is a similar step in winemaking where you add bentonite before fermentation as opposed to after that is somewhat like the Irish moss.

OK so I can try some of what Gauche linked to how about anyone with similar "yech" experience?
How about using none at all?
posted by mrgroweler at 11:16 AM on January 18, 2012

I believe you can use very low concentrations of pure gelatin as a fining agent (for beer). It's hot when it goes in, though -- not sure if that would cause a problem with winemaking. That stuff has basically no flavor at all.

Personally, I don't use any fining agents when I brew beer. I've never done wine, but several of my friends have, and I don't think they add any fining agents. I've never noticed their wine being especially cloudy, but then again they were mostly reds, so it's possible I just didn't notice.

How long are you planning on cellaring the wine for in bottles before consuming? I assume, if it's at all like beer, that if you let it sit for a week or two in the bottles that many of the solids will precipitate out and you'll have a clearer product at the end. (Of course maybe this doesn't work as well with wine due to the higher sp grav?)
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:05 PM on January 18, 2012

Isinglass and Irish Moss have similar smells / flavors to Chitosan. I think your best bet would be Sparkolloid - adds no spurious flavors to the wine, clears very well and also does not aggressively remove flavors. Bentonite and gelatin clear well, but have a greater chance of removing flavor & color, especially in reds. Polyclar is also flavorless, but does not work as well with whites. If you want to avoid additives altogether, you can force chill the wine before racking - this will drop yeast, but not necessarily protein haze.
posted by sardonista at 12:31 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Irish moss is usually added to the boil during brewing, not sure if it would work in wine.
posted by tommasz at 1:40 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Fining. Traditionally, they used egg whites.
Egg whites, containing albumin and globulin, are a moderately aggressive protein fining agent. (Egg-whites contain roughly 12% protein substances useful for fining.) The peptide linkages of the albumin form hydrogen bonds with hydroxyl groups on tannins.

They are used for the clarification and tannin reduction of red wines (the proteins attract long-chained tannins, slightly reducing astringency) and are not considered suitable for whites. As far as red wine protein fining goes, they are relatively gentle. Because of this, gelatine is a better fining agent to use against harsh tannins.

For fresh egg whites doses range from 1 to 8 egg whites per barrique (225 L). Typical dosage is probably 1-5 egg whites per barrique. Dried egg white powder or frozen egg whites can also be used at 0.1-0.2 g/l, and dried albumin used at 8-15 mg/l.

Free range organic is considered by some to be the best source of egg whites for fining purposes.

Egg whites are usually prepared by adding a small pinch of salt to some warm water (to help dissolve the globulin which is only soluble in the presence of salts). One part egg-white to two parts salt-water is then mixed. The whites are whisked but not beaten (avoiding foam as this fails to mix). The mixture is then added slowly into the wine whilst stirring continuously.

The wine can usually be racked of the fining lees after one or two weeks.</quote/
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:05 PM on January 18, 2012

Best answer: Can I not add them? Obviously that would create a wine with a foggy feature but will it be that bad?

Yes you can not add them [I never do]. No it is not obvious that your wine will thus be foggy - the majority of mine are crystal clear.

If you do make foggy wine, it will taste no different, so you might as well not bother with fining unless you're trying to impress wine snobs.

Note that one cause of haze in wine is pectin, which you can eliminate with pectolase, should you choose.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 5:18 PM on January 18, 2012

Response by poster: Hmm Pectin is interesting but probably not a problem in the kits. I bet it is when I made fruit wine last year.
posted by mrgroweler at 6:30 AM on January 19, 2012

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