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Fining Fruit Wines

TroubleShooting

Bruce Castrato — Wausakee, Wisconsin asks,
Q

I have started to make small batches of fruit wine in the 1 to 2 gallon (3.8–8.5 L) range. When it comes to clarifying I use a pre-measured packet that I got from a supplier. The amounts are what are used for 5 to 6 gallons (19–23 L) of wine. Is there a rule of thumb on the amount that should be used for each gallon of wine that needs to be clarified? Can I just use the pre-measured packages for 1 or 2 gallons (3.8–8.5 L) without affecting the taste?

A
The short answer is that yes, I would absolutely cut down on the amount of clarifying agent you use if you don’t have enough wine volume for the recommended 5 gallon (19 L) batch listed on the packet. Because I don’t know what is in your “pre-measured packet,” it’s hard for me to get into express chemical details of what such little packets might do to your wine if added in excess amounts, but suffice it to say that as with adding anything to wine, tread with caution and be conservative. Wine clarifiers, or “fining agents” as they (and a whole host of other wine-finishing additives) are called, are creatures of degrees. What I mean is that they enact some sort of chemical or physical activity on one’s wine, usually binding to and settling out of solution some unwanted compound (excess tannin, cloudy protein, etc.) in the finished wine, usually on a sliding scale. Add too little and, in your case, you may not see the clarity that you would want. Add too much, and you’ll get clarity in spades,
Response by Alison Crowe.