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Normally, most meads will clear by themselves, one just has to be patient. Some people also say that cooling down the must (near freezing) can help it clear. In other cases, it is possible to add fining agents which will flocculate (agglomerate) particles in suspension and make them drop to the bottom of the vessel.

Fining agents are of two kinds: some are positively charged and others negatively. Just like with magnets where north is attracted to south, positive attracts negative and they form agglomerates which eventually drop to the bottom of the vessel. Proteins for example being positively charged, one adds negatively charged particles (bentonite, silica gel) to flocculate them. Yeast cells are negatively charged, so one adds positively charged particles (Sparkolloïd, gelatin, isinglass). When fining agents are added, mead should become more limpid and all the stuff in suspension should become part of the lees (sediments). Rack a few weeks later to remove the lees and then again if necessary. Some fining agents like Sparkolloïd produce very light and fluffy lees which will go back up as soon as the carboy is touched or they will enter the hose even if it is one inch away from the lees.

The simpler and most natural fining agent is time. But if one is eager to bottle and drink quickly, fining can save time.  Also note that a mead which is not brilliantly clear (unless this is due to bacteria) will not hurt (see criteria of judgment in Syntheses).

Bentonite

Origin:

Aspect:

Charge:

Wyoming clay [V2, V5]

granulates [V1]

– [V2, V3, V5, V9]

Effect:

Removes proteins from white and rosés wines [V2, V9]

Sometimes, clarification of cloudy fruit wines [V2]

Removes colloids, phenols, cloudiness-causing proteins, tannins [V5]

Used along with:

Gelatin or kieselsol [V5]

Dose:

Dissolve in boiling water and then let sit for 30 min [V5], 24 h [V1, V2, V6].

1 g/gal: general clarification [V2]

2 g/gal: removes proteins from white wines [V2]

1,5 g/L[V6], 1-2 g/gal[V3], 5-10 g/gal[V4]

½ tsp (2,7 g)/5 gal [V9] or 2 tsp (11 g)/5 gal [V9] if at the time of 1st racking (lots of lees)

When:

End of 2nd fermentation (where there are a lot of lees) [V5]

Duration:

24 h then 2-3 days to compact lees [V5]

Most suitable for:

Dessert wines [V6]

White wines [V9]

Comments:

If > 2 g/gal: loss of flavor [V2]

Lots of light fluffy lees [V2, V4, V5, V6, V9]

Removes color from red wine [V6, V9]

Benign [V9]

More efficient at room temperature [V9]

Kieselsol (silica gel)

Origin:

Aspect:

Charge:

liquid [V5]

-

Effect:

Removes proteins [V2, V3]

Used along with:

After gelatin [V2, V5]

Bentonite and gelatin-> compact lees [V3]

Dose:

1ml per g of gelatin[V2, V5]

0,3-0,5 g/L[B2]

1 ml/gal [V9]

When:

Duration:

Several weeks [V5]

1 week-10 days [V2]

Most suitable for:

White wine [V5]

Comments:

Selective: removes only not-nice proteins [B2]

Use small amounts=> pb measuring accurately [V2, V5]

Good replacement for tannins when used with gelatin [V9]

Limited shelf life (1 year or so) [V9]: do not keep stocks.

Casein

Origin:

Aspect:

Charge:

Milk protein [V2]

Potassium caseinate [V2]

+ ?

Effect:

Removes phenols (tannins, oak) [V2, V9]

Sometimes removes some unwanted color from rosé [V2]

Often removes browning from oxidized whites wines [V2, V9]

Used along with:

Dose:

1/4 g/gal: removes browning [V2]

1/2 g/gal: removes bitterness/excess of oak flavor [V2]

1 g/5 gal [V9]

When:

Duration:

1 week-10 days [V2]

Most suitable for:

White/rosé [V2, V9]

Comments:

Reacts with acids => must be injected under pressure [V2, V9]

Excess -> cheese odor [V2]

Isinglass/Biofine

Origin:

Aspect:

Charge:

Protein (collagen [B2]) from the swim bladder of sturgeon [V2, V5, B2]

Powder/fragments [V5], granulates [V2]

+ [V9]

Effect:

Removes yeasts [B2]

Removes yeasts, tannins [ ??]

Exhausts flavor [V2]

Used along with:

 Tannins [V9] (1/4-1/2 tsp /5 gal)

Dose:

Dissolve in 1/100 of the volume of must (200 ml for 5 gallons) and refrigerate for 36-48 h before use.

50-300 mg/gal(generally 100 mg/gal) [V2]

10-15 mg/L[ ??]

15-70 mg/L[V3, B2]

When:

Duration:

Most suitable for:

White wine, Champagne [V2, V3, V9]

Red wine [V5]

Rosé [V9]

Comments:

Little risk [V5]

Expensive [B2]

Sparkolloid

Origin:

Aspect:

Charge:

Polysaccharides scattered in diatomic earth [V2, V5]

Powder

+ [V5]

– [V9]

Effect:

Removes , tannins [V5]

Removes proteins [V9]

Used along with:

after bentonite [V2]

followed by isinglass or cold stabilization to cover lees and keep them at the bottom [V9]

Dose:

1/4 g/gal: after bentonite [V2]

1/2 g/gal: clarification of whites wines [V2]

1 tsp / gal [V9]

When:

Fermentation done, beginning of aging [V5]

Duration:

Most suitable for:

White, rosé [V2, V9]

Red wine [V5]

Best product for mead [V5]

Comments:

benign [V2, V9]

fines lees, goes down slowly [V2, V9]

Gelatin

Origin:

Aspect:

Charge:

Protein (collagen [B2]) from animal bone, skin, etc. [V5]

+ [V5, V6, V9]

Effect:

Removes yeasts [V5], tannins [V2, V3, V5]

Exhausts taste [V3]

Used along with:

Kieselsol => good redeposition => quick [V2, V5]

Dose:

Mix 10-20 g [V2]/ 15 g [V5] in 1 L (1 qt) of hot water [V5]. Do not boil [V2]

1/8 g/gal: clarification of whites wines [V2]

1/4 g/gal: reduces bitterness of whites wines [V2]

1/2 g/gal: reduces tannins in red wines [V2]

0,5-1 g/gal[V3], 30 mg/L[V1], 60-90 mg/L[B2]

When:

Before 1 year [V3]

Duration:

3-6 days [ ??]

Most suitable for:

White, rosé [V2]

Troublesome red wines [V5]

Bitterness and astringency in red wines [V2]

Comments:

Be very careful: it can remove some flavor [V2]



May 29th 2002