Best Practices for Settling With Fining Agents
Last updated: 6/2022
Applies to: Winemakers using fining agents in any stage of winemaking for clarification, to treat and prevent oxidative damage, confer protein stability, and more.
Static settling is the most common method of using and removing fining agents. Agents are added to a tank, the tank is mixed, and the agent settles over time, binding and removing solids and other undesired compounds. Scott Laboratories recommends the following order of operations:
- Add Enzymes
- Add Fining Agent(s)
- Allow Time to Settle
Enzymes break down pectin in juice and wine. Pectin traps solids and other undesirable compounds in suspension and prevents settling. Pectin will also prevent fining agents from settling.
It is difficult to know if a wine has a problematic level of pectin without testing, and bench top trials can be unreliable. Typically, pectin problems are discovered when a fining agent won’t settle out. At this point, it may be too late to use enzymes as some fining agents like bentonite can deactivate enzymes. Proactive use of enzymes is an inexpensive fix to avoid this issue. Enzyme use during clarification will also make future filtration easier.
ADD FINING AGENT(S)
Fining agents bind with solids and other undesirable compounds, forming larger molecules called floccules, which fall out of solution more quickly than unbound solids. To determine the most appropriate fining agent and dosage, bench trials should be conducted.
When adding a fining or stability agent it is important to properly rehydrate the product, as well as adequately disperse it into the wine. Pumping using a venturi is an efficient way to disperse agents prior to fermentation. Closed circulation after addition is recommended at any winemaking stage.
ALLOW TIME TO SETTLE
The floccules created by the fining agent will settle to the bottom of the tank over time. Temperature is the main driver of settling rate, and extreme cold temperatures (close to freezing) can inhibit settling and will also inhibit most enzyme activity.
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