The good wine with its pretty clear and clear color that the French love to taste so much is the result of complex work by the winemaker. To transform the grapes from his vineyard into quality wine, he must go through several stages. One of them, called fining , consists of removing all the particles present in the wine. Let’s discover this essential winemaking technique.
Wine fining: definition
Wine fining is a filtration technique that removes all residues contained in the wine before bottling. These residues are called colloids. Suspended impurities , which are too large to be filtered, are then removed, which helps clarify the wine and make it more pleasant to drink and observe.
To eliminate particles from red wines , white wines or rosé wines , winegrowers then add a substance capable of bringing together and sticking the particles together. The sediment then settles at the bottom of the tank, and the professionals only recover the filtered wine.
Wine fining is a winemaking technique practiced since Roman times.
Why should a wine be fined?
Fining the wine is not an obligatory step in winemaking. On the other hand, you should know that particles suspended in wine can have some harmful consequences on the wine:
- Modification of wine aromas;
- Changed the appearance of the dress;
- Unpleasant sensation when tasting.
And if the fining of wines makes it possible to eliminate the musts from the wine , it also makes it possible to remove foreign bodies which were added during the making of the wine, such as sand, small gravel, or any small debris .
Most winemakers use the fining method to clarify wine , but others choose not to intervene. This is the case for professionals who make natural wine. Here, no filtration, and the consumer tastes the wine as is.
Wine fining: how does it work?
The fining of the wine is done by the addition of a particular protein substance , which will have the capacity to coagulate on contact with the tannins of the wine, and thus to trap suspended impurities . This stage of wine filtration is mainly done with egg white, but other substances are also used.
The addition of such an agent then makes it possible to filter the wine and clarify it, so as not to find any deposits at the bottom of the wine bottle.
Once the glue has gathered all the particles at the bottom of the tank, all you have to do is filter the wine .
The different substances used for fining wine musts
Traditionally, wine fining is done using egg whites, but winemakers use other fining products , which are not necessarily of animal origin. This makes it possible to meet the dietary requirements and beliefs of certain consumers, but also and above all to meet the specifications of the different appellations. Indeed, the use of inputs is sometimes highly regulated. Thus, several wine clarifying agents are possible.
- Bentonites : these natural clays of plant origin fix the proteins in white wines and the colloids in red wines;
- Fish glue : this soft glue, based on raw vegetable proteins, is a fining product mainly used for white wines. This substance is extracted from the swim bladder of fish;
- Casein : this energetic glue effectively eliminates oxidized polyphenols. Casein is the main protein in milk;
- Egg albumin, or egg white : this glue is most used for red wines, whether in powder form, fresh, or frozen;
- Gelatins : gelatin is a protein derived from collagen contained in pork bones or skin. We distinguish between hot soluble gelatin (SC), cold soluble gelatin (SF) and liquid gelatin (L);
- Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVPP) : this synthetic glue eliminates the astringency of young red wine, as well as the bitterness and too bright color of white wines;
- Silica gels : with their low pH, these silica suspensions form a gel, and are often combined with gelatin.
Wine fining: at what stage of winemaking?
Wine fining methods are applied just before bottling, after alcoholic fermentation. You must then give the glue time to eliminate the residue, without it damaging the taste of the wine. The fining of a wine lasts on average 2 to 3 weeks , without ever exceeding 20 days, at the risk of losing the taste of the wine.
Making wine is a constant job. From the vine to the bottle, the winemaker applies scrupulous methods to obtain a quality wine. You now know how we obtain clear, residue-free wines thanks to fining.