What is clearing or fining wine?
Wine, both red and white, contain tiny particles that suspend themselves in the wine after fermentation. Most people agree that this is unsightly and completely not an option for quality wines. I agree with them. Clearing, or fining wine, is the process of gathering these tiny suspended particles and making them fall to the bottom of your container to be easily removed or left behind with racking. Despite what many first time wine makers think, this process is very simple and requires little to no experience with wine.
Different types of fining agents.
When asking how to fine your wines, many people are often given very difficult or complicated methods to fine their wines. Egg whites is the most common answer given to new wine makers asking for tips from older wine makers. Times and technology have changed and given us better and easier methods to fine wine. I personally do not recommend using egg whites. This can be messy and not the most sanitary method available. This can also often leave unpleasant tastes in your wine that some people can pick out.
Another method of fining your wine is by using a filtration system made for wines. This again, I do not recommend solely for the fact that if you do not get most of the suspended matter out before you filter, your filter pads will become clogged and not do their job properly. This can become a concern. However, after you remove the bulk of the suspended particles in the wine, filtering becomes a very good idea, especially in kit wines. I don't really recommend filtering wines made from fresh crushed grapes or fresh juice because they have a much higher aging potential and filtering could remove some of the good stuff for aging. This really depends on the type of wine being made and the quality of the grapes or juices. Just a quick thought.
Bulk aging is another very good method of fining a wine. If a wine is left undisturbed the fine particles will slowly but surely fall out of suspension to the bottom of the aging container. If you can wait long enough and have enough patience, you will surely have a great cleared wine. There are some things that are required for the bulk aging method to work. First, the wine clears best if the wine is degassed. If you have an oak barrel, the wine will degas efficiently and the particles will drop. This will require racking the wine also every couple of months to a new barrel or carboy while you clean your aging barrel. If you use a carboy for aging, you will need to degas using a method like the vacuum pump method (will discuss this in a future article). Again, racking is necessary if using a barrel or carboy. Letting a wine clear itself like this makes the best quality wine possible as there is no additive to leave an off-taste or flavor. 100% wine.
However, there are sometimes that a wine just refuses to clear. To clear a stubborn wine you need to add an additive that has the opposite charge to the suspended particles. Introducing Chitosan and Kieselsol.
Chitosan and Kieselsol are my golden clearing agents that I personally use to clear a stubborn wine. I find that this is the best method for clearing a wine that will not clear with time. I have used this many times on many different wines and have never been disappointed. Within 3 days time you will have a crystal clear white wine or a pristine red wine. You can pick this stuff up at almost any wine making store and it comes with simple instructions on how to use it. I recommend this 100%. Use this before filtering if you can also.
I have listed some of the most popular methods of fining or clearing a wine. By no means is this the complete list. I could go on for days about different methods people have used over the centuries, but I will not oblige you with this. That is a story for a different day. I have however, listed some of the easiest methods available that yield promising results. Like stated above, I really recommend you use chitosan and kieselsol as your first choice past bulk aging if your wine will not clear. I cannot stress this enough. It really does work wonders. Also, use the chitosan and kieselsol about a week before you bottle. This gives the wine enough time to drop particles while you are bulk aging and the particles can naturally give the wine better flavors while aging.
In order for bulk aging to properly clear your wine, it is recommended that you give your wine proper time to be able to clear. This time frame includes approximately 12 months with adequate racking approximately every 2-3 months time. Try to minimize air contact with your wine while racking. You don't want to oxidize your hard work.
I hope you learned something helpful on this hub article about fining and clearing wines. I hope you can take this information and put it to good use on your current or future wines. Thanks for taking the time to read this hub. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment in the section below.
Rex Hand on July 11, 2019:
How much is needed per gallon to clear?
Rick on May 29, 2018:
My Kieselsol has turned white and gritty. Can I still use it?
Kroker Steinbach on January 30, 2016:
I may have used the kieselsol and the chitosan in the wrong order
I that a problem ?
Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on June 04, 2015:
I use it for both. It comes as a packet and you need both for it to work properly. I find this is one of the best to use for clearing wine of suspended sediment quickly and easily.
Patoruzu on May 27, 2015:
I would like to know which one of both chitosan and klielesol is best for red and which one is best for whites
Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on December 22, 2012:
I've never had the opportunity to tinker around with kieselsol when it has solidified into crystals. But you could try it. If it doesn't clear the wine up, you can just filter it out, it shouldn't hurt it. But yes, you would use both of those products.
If it ends up not working, filter your wine carefully and try a different fining method.
Caleb on December 19, 2012:
I have two 5 gallon carboys of Merlowe wine on the go. The kits are quite old and when I went to add the Kieselsol, it was all solidified into solid crystals which I could not dissolve. My question - having ground these up & added to the wine, will they still work? Should I then go on & add the Chitosan shortly after?
Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on March 15, 2012:
No worries. You are wanting to know something about wine, and that's what the comments are for :)
syl-h on March 13, 2012:
I'm looking for a recipe for blackboy peach wine and I noticed a comment in your thread from Tal in NZ. I'm also in NZ and would appreciate a recipe as I'm not sure other peach wine recipes would suit as it is certainly a unique peach. Sorry Mr Pudgy that I'm a bit off topic.
Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on February 26, 2012:
Have you racked the wine and is it fully 100% degassed? If you are allowing the wine to naturally degas, it could take a while. Make sure you rack it off the lees also when there starts to be quite a buildup. Lots of lees on the bottom can keep the wine from clearing properly. Also, if you used finings before the wine was fully degassed, it wouldn't have cleared completely.
Hope this helped you! Any other questions, just ask.
Tal (NZ) on February 05, 2012:
I have a blackboy peach wine which is very tasty but refuses to clear.It was made in march 2011. Have used finings but still a wee bit cloudy
Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on May 12, 2011:
@ Rochelle Frank
You needed to degas it and yes, the chitosan and kieselsol would have cleared it right up. Glad you learned something :)
Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on May 12, 2011:
I only tried to make wine once, peach wine. It was cloudy, so probably could have used this method. It was also somewhat bubbly. Ugly, but very tasty despite it's flaws.