Common Wine and Beer Finings

Finings (pronounced fine-ings) are often used in wine and beer to facilitate and speed up clearing. All of the particles clouding up wine or beer have an electrical charge. Positive charged finings will attract negatively charged particles and bind with them, making them too heavy to float. Negative charged finings will attract positively charged particles producing the same results. They will then sink to the bottom of your carboy, leaving everything brilliantly clear. Finings might not work on the first try, or it may take more than one kind of fining to clear a wine or beer. Polyclar plays a special role in beer-making. It removes haze caused by tannin in grain husks without taking too much body and flavour out of the beer.

Here is an outline of the most common finings used in wine and beer making.

Bentonite

Montmorillonite. Naturally occurring hydrated aluminosilicate of sodium, calcium, magnesium, and iron.

Fining agent for wine. Also useful when added to a clear juice must at the beginning of a fermentation to provide yeast nucleation sites and speed the onset of fermentation. Use ½ g per litre of wine. Dissolve by blending into boiling water (for every gram of bentonite use about 25 ml of water: for a 23 litre batch of wine that is 11.5 g of bentonite in about 300 ml of water). Allow to stand for 24 hours and stir thoroughly into wine. Wait two weeks and then rack wine from sediment. 5 ml (one teaspoon) = approximately 3 grams.

Store in a cool dry place. Using more than the recommended amount can strip melanoidins (colour and flavour compounds) from a wine.

Kieselsol

Silicon dioxide. Silica.

Fining agent for beer or wine. Should be used in conjunction with gelatin. Add 2.2 ml per litre of wine or beer (about 50 ml per 23 litre batch). Use a syringe for accurate measurement. Stir thoroughly. Wait two weeks and rack off sediment.

Store at room temperature. Do not freeze or refrigerate. Seal tightly when not in use.

Liquid Gelatin Finings.

100% animal-derived gelatin.

Positively charged fining agent for wine and beer. Can be used alone or in conjunction with kieselsol. The most powerful of the organic finings, gelatin will also remove excess tannins (polyphenolics) and colouring particles (melanoidins) from wine. Use .66 ml per litre (about 15 ml per 23 litres). Use a syringe for accurate measurement. Place gelatin container in hot water to soften contents. Stir into wine or beer thoroughly. Wait two weeks and rack from sediment.

Using more than the recommended amount will remove too much of the colour and flavour compounds from wine and some of the body from beer.

Store under refrigeration

Egg Whites

Positively charged fining for wine.

Works similar to gelatin, removing tannins and some colour. Dosage is 1/5 to ½ egg white per 23 litres. Gently beat white with 500 ml of wine and a pinch of salt and stir immediately into wine. Do not beat stiff, just loosen up the white so it will mix into the wine. Wait two weeks and rack. This is the only fining agent used on the great red wines of Burgundy

Gelatin Finings (dried form)

100% animal-derived gelatin

Positively charged fining agent for wine and beer. The most powerful of the organic finings, gelatin will also remove excess tannins (polyphenolics) and colouring particles (melanoidins) from wine. Use 1.5 g per 23 litres of beer, 3 g per 23 litres of wine. Pour 125 ml of boiling water over gelatin powder, stirring to dissolve. Stir thoroughly into wine. 5 ml (one teaspoon) = approximately 3 g.

Using more than the recommended amount will remove too much of the colour and flavour compounds from wine and some of the body from beer.

Store cool and dry

Isinglass

Sometimes called fish glue.

The shredded, freeze dried, powdered swim bladder of sturgeon dissolved in liquid suspension. Positively charged fining agent. Traditionally used for beer but can also be used for wine. Extremely gentle. Use 1 ml per litre of beer or wine. Dissolve into 250 ml of water and stir thoroughly into beer or wine. Wait two weeks and rack off sediment. Not as strong as any other fining; may fail to clear completely

Store tightly sealed in a cool place.

Polyclar

Polyvinylpolypyrrolidone food grade. Polyclar VT

Stabilising additive for wine or beer. Removes polyphenolic compounds and oxidised melanoidins. This means that when used in beer it will remove haze-causing husk tannins and oxidised compounds that contribute to off flavours. When used in a finished wine it can help to remove haze-causing proteins. More importantly, it can remove oxidised flavour and aroma compounds, making the wine taste fresher while improving and enhancing the aroma. Also able to gently reduce tannins. Use ½ g per litre of wine or beer. Dissolve powder in 500 ml of the wine or beer. Stir into larger amount, mixing very well. Wait for one week and rack from sediment. May cause gushing and foaming when added; when in doubt, add to wine or beer in a container with 25% larger volume than the liquid inside. 5 ml (one teaspoon) = approximately 1.1 g.

Although Polyclar will remove haze it is not primarily a fining agent. Using more than the recommended amount can strip melanoidins (colour and flavour compounds) from a wine. Store at room temperature

Sparkolloid

Other names: Celite. Calcined diatomaceous earth. Kieselguhr. Siliceous rock.

Crystalline Silica, quartz aluminasilicate, cristobalite. It contains colloidal compounds which make it gel, and the silica is derived from the preserved skeletons of marine animals found in dry seabeds. Positively charged fining agent for beer and wine. Noted for working when other fining agents have failed. Also provides a compact sediment bed, pressing down other fining agents and increasing yield. Used as a coating medium for filter pads, to decrease porosity. To use, stir 25 g of Sparkolloid into 1 litre of briskly boiling water. Boil for three minutes, stirring well to completely dissolve. Use 12.5 ml of the prepared solution for every litre of wine (about 300 ml for 23 litres). Stir thoroughly into wine, leave for 2 weeks, then rack off sediment. Store remaining solution in tightly sealed bottle. Will keep for 6 months or more. 5 ml (one teaspoon) = approximately 1.2 grams.