WINE FILTRATION – WHY WE NEED IT
Bouquet and taste are important but the appearance of a wine is normally its first attraction. Take a glass of water from the tap, hold it up to the light and observe the brilliance. We take this for granted, if not for drinking! Wines can also shine like this, providing you follow a few simple rules.
Newcomers to winemaking are more likely to obtain reasonable clarities when they use the “quickie” wine kits, with instructions by numbers, and those made from the wide range of grape concentrate. The old school of winemakers often refer to “making wines like their Grandparents did”, but this is not to be recommended. In many cases, they relied upon wild yeast for fermenting, had never heard of tannin, nutrient or enzymes and probably paid little attention to hygiene.
It is no wonder that the country wines using so many different ingredients, which vary in themselves from year to year, are the areas where the worst clearing problems occur. This is especially so with some of the older recipes.
Hazes consists of millions of microscopic particles that are too light to settle. A large proportion of these normally pass through or clog the finest filtering materials, and this is the reason why filtering on some occasions may not be effective.
Commercial winemakers do not use filtration as a shortcut to avoid fining. They use it as a finishing process to achieve professional brilliance.
Providing there has been a well-balanced must and steady fermentation, many wines can clear reasonably well without assistance. Should the winemaker have been able to maintain such conditions and the wine clears on its own, it may then be acceptable or be filtered directly to brilliance without fining.
THE HAZES – WHERE THEY COME FROM
There are basically three main causes:
Protein, which is present in all living matter.
Hazes can, therefore, be formed from all fruit and vegetables used in winemaking. Haze particles are very small, some are jelly-like and are only slightly heavier than water. This means that they will be very slow to settle.
Another unfortunate tendency with haze particles is their ability to attract a glue-like layer onto the surface of a filter pad. This soon cuts down the wine flow through the filter to a trickle and the clarity of the wine may not be up to standard.
With simple forethought, it is easy to obtain brilliant wines almost every time. The filter pad inside a wine filter cannot work miracles! Passing a thick wine through any kind of filter will not produce a good result. It will clog the filter and even stop the flow.
It may seem a very odd statement to make, but because filter pads are very sensitive they perform much better when used for polishing a reasonably clear wine. The key to achieving professional brilliance is to follow a similar route to that of commercial winemakers.
AT THE START OF FERMENTATION.
With kit wines:
Add Pectinaze or pectic enzyme, preferably at the time of adding the yeast or during fermentation. Without the enzyme and should the wine be slightly cloudy after fermentation, add the above dose and leave in a warm place for 3-4 days.
With country wines:
Since country wines are generally most troublesome to clear, treat as above but with double the dose.
When fermenting on the pulp for a few days, strain off the must into a jar in two stages. The rough pulp should first strain through a plastic colander into a bucket and then the contents of the bucket strained through a muslin or nylon sieve into the jar to remove the finer particles.
At the end of fermentation.
Add sulphite and Potassium Sorbate stabiliser and leave for t least 3 days as this will prevent any further fermentation. Next, add wine finings then leave the wine in a cool place for at least one week to allow the yeasty sediment to settle out.
Adding Pectinaze or pectic enzyme will improve wine quality, especially the final colour. Using wine finings will prepare the wine for filtering. This is because the finings combine with the minute haze particles, making them larger and allowing them to fall as a sediment in the jar, resulting in a much clearer wine. After syphoning from the sediment, the filter will then polish the wine to produce a true colour with professional brilliance.
Many people avoid using finings because they consider the balance of the wine would be disturbed. There is no suggestion that adding enzymes and finings will alter the wine chemistry.
The Vinbrite filter is gravity based filter suitable for filtering up to five-gallon batches of wine. With this filter, there is a choice of three types of filter pads.
Crystalbrite Pads are thin pads that offer fast filtering flow rates.
Filtabrite Pads are thick pads. Although slower in operation, they can achieve the highest possible wine clarity.
Prime Pads are a pre-treatment filter pad to remove by removing larger solids and colloidal particles that may block finer filter pads.
The Vinbrite Filter is the bestselling filter in the world. It is extremely cost-effective to run, simple to operate, and produces excellent and consistent results.
Most commercial filters rely on the use of disposable and replaceable filter pads. By using a wine filter, it is possible to filter hazy wines, with true colour and commercial clarities, within the same day – which is very impressive.
Filtering ensures that there will be no foreign matter or dead yeast particles to produce off-flavours and the wine is healthier to proceed on with maturation.