Fining

A winemaking process to clarify wine. Fining is usually conducted after primary fermentation, once the wine is cleared of its skins, stems, and seeds. A fining agent is mixed into the wine and attaches to microscopic particles like proteins, polymerized tannins, microbes, and other material. The mass settles to the bottom of the tank, and the clear wine is racked into another vessel.

Fining agents may be organic (protein-based) or inorganic. Organics include albumin, casein, isinglass, gelatin, chitosan, and pea protein. Other substances include bentonite and activated carbon. A synthetic agent, polyvinylpolypyrrolidone (PVPP), is also common. Fining agents don’t remain in the wine, but vegans may wish to avoid wines fined with animal byproducts.

Nearly all white and rosé wines and many red wines are fined. It must be done with a light hand, since it can strip wine of color, tannin, and desirable flavor and aromatic compounds. Done well, it will impart a silky texture and also prevent the development of hazes or microbial spoilage.

Fining is ancient technique with a long history; it is traditional in Bordeaux, for example. It’s possible to clarify wine through filtration, or simply by settling and racking, although the latter is time- and labor-intensive. Many winemakers view fining as an unnecessary intervention, preferring to leave their wines unfined.

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