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Joe’s Wine Making Adventure – Installment 5: Clarifying Times

To read the previous installment in Joe’s Wine Making Adventure – The Fire Breathing Dragon, click here.

With the balancing act hopefully in hand, and the juice settled down again, it was now time to hit the home stretch.  Most people like clear wine.  These days there is a big push for organic, biodynamic, unfiltered, whole cluster pressing and all sorts of things.   If you look at old writings on what a quality wine’s characteristics would be, a crystal clarity would be among them.  I still like my wine clear, and Joe is off making sure that happens in this episode.  Here are his notes:

“The Malolactic fermentation having been completed and the wine rested, it was time once again to rack the wine and add clarifying agent.  Believe it or not, the first step is to add bentonite which has been mixed with water to form a thick paste.  Bentonite is a clay material, which can be commonly found in the CIMG2115ground several feet down.  I was a little confused on the mixing of the bentonite and water, and so ended up with a lot extra.  Besides the challenge of trying to dissolve the bentonite in water, like trying to make gravy without lumps, the process went pretty smoothly.  First I cleaned the new carboys and sanitized using a potassium meta bisulfide rinse and then transferred the wine into them.  Adding the bentonite slurry was pretty straight forward.  They were all resealed and allowed to rest for a month.  After settling it was time to rack again and perform the second clarifying step.  This is a two-step process where a small amount of liquid called xx is added to the wine and allowed to sit for several hours.  I added the second liquid (XX) 8 hours later. XX and xx are derived from shellfish.  The theory is that the two will polymerize forming large molecules around the solids in the wine.  These will then settle to the bottom to be removed during the CIMG2111next racking.  This whole clarifying process went smoothly, as I was starting to get a rhythm down on cleaning and sanitizing the carboys.  Definitely having a deep sink or even better a floor drain in the basement would be ideal for this job.  I sampled the wine before adding clarifying agent, it was a little harsh on the mouth, but had some potential.  In fact one reminded me of Woodbridge,  I thought to myself if my first attempt could be as good as that it would be an accomplishment.  I also decided to do racking later in the day next time, since I had about 3 to 4 glasses of wine in me before my coffee and breakfast.  The racking process from setup to cleanup seems to take about 3 hours.”

So it seems we’re going to be trying some clear wine.  That’s good.  Three to four glasses of wine before breakfast is bad, but it only happened once, and was for the cause.  Next it will be time to get some wood aging characteristics into the juice.  We’re getting close, and the suspense is building.

To read about the next step in Joe’s journey click here and read: Time to Oak

Can’t wait for the unveiling party.

A votre sante!

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