Have you ever encountered a situation where your home made wine refuses to clear? For some wine, this haze may clear if you refrigerate them for a few days but for certain wine, hazy particles will develop and float around the wine. The particles do not settle no matter how long you let it sit. If you encounter such problems, it's best to use wine fining agents.
Fining agents are substances that you add to the wine to help it clarify. Given enough time in a stable environment, a lot of these particles may eventually settle down on their own. However, wine makers like to speed up this waiting process by adding fining agents. With these agents, hazy particles tend to collect together and fall to the bottom of the fermenting jar. Apart from speeding up clarification, wine finings can also help to reduce unwanted flavors or aromas in the wine and will improve the wine's overall appearance and stability.
These agents do their work through 3 ways: electrostatic, absorption and enzymatic. In electrostatic, fining agents have inherent electric charge which attracts oppositely charged particles. As a result, the hazy particles become bound to the agent and settle down to the bottom. For absorbent fining agents, they work by absorbing the particles and sinking to the bottom. Enzymatic finings works by destroying the particles causing the haze, thereby eliminating them from the wine.
A few examples of commonly used wine fining agents are bentonite, isinglass, gelatin and kitosol.
Wine finings should be added after most of the fermentation has ended. Typically, the can be added right after racking the wine for the first time. The use of finings will speed up the settling of particles and the wine will be visibly clearer during subsequent racking. This can save you precious weeks while waiting for the wine to clear by itself. Some wine makers also add finings a few days prior to bottling to ensure that particles clear out completely when they finally bottle and store the wine.
For home wine makers, the use of finings need not be a problematic issue. If your using packaged juice concentrates from wine ingredient kits, they will usually come with their own fining agents. If you are unsure about which fining agents to use, you can stick to bentonite. Bentonite is a popular choice for most wine makers as it is a harmless inorganic material that does not react with your wine.