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The cellar practices are a fundamental step in the production of wine in order to improve its stability and organoleptic qualities. In this article we will delve into the clarification of the wine and I'll try to answer a few questions. In particular I would like to analyze two clarification materials: L 'albumin and gelatin.

What is clarification for?

Clarification is used to avoid precipitation, disease and cloudiness of the wine.

When to do wine clarification?

Clarification is done to obtain a more limpid, brilliant and transparent wine.

What does clarification mean?

Clarifying means stabilizing the wine by eliminating the sediments that make it cloudy.

How is clarification done?

Clarification is a practice carried out at low temperature which consists in adding substances that form heavy aggregates with the particles to be eliminated, which then settle on the bottom of the container. The added substances can be organic (animal gelatin, vegetable gelatin, albumin, isinglass) or inorganic (aluminum sulphate, bentonite, potassium caseinate ...) or from the union of these.

Wine clarification: albumin or gelatin?

The choice of the clarification material must be based on the result to be obtained, the characteristics of the wines to be treated and the technological constraints.

Albumin

Widely used with the best quality wines for its ability to eliminate astringency and the bitter taste of red wine. It also refines the structure, corrects any oxidized scents and respects the typicality of the vines used and the wine obtained from them. Commercially it is a powder to be rehydrated with cold water because it is sensitive to heat. Another property of albumin is the low reduction of polyphenols even at high doses compared to bentonite. However the dosages are very limited compared to the other methods. Today excellent quality powdered albumin is used, historically the cellarmen used an egg white with a hint of sodium chloride.

Gelatin

The value of the action performed by the gelatin in the clarification process is directly proportional to its surface charge. The greater the surface charge of the gelatin, the greater its range of action. This means that gelatine acts on all "classes" of tannins, refining their properties and maintaining their balance. The lower the surface charge of the gelatin, the lower its spectrum of action. This means that gelatine only acts on the most reactive and aggressive tannins and therefore also plays a balancing role for disharmonious wines. From here we can understand that a gelatin with a high surface charge is useful in old and structured wines, while a gelatin with a low surface charge is perfect for young and astringent wines.

Animal jelly

For years it was the most used material for clarification, only to be “feared” during the mad cow years. Currently, pig skin is mainly used to obtain it. It appears commercially as a more or less pure thin transparent sheet. It is used like isinglass to make desserts: it is left to soak in cold water to make it swell and soften, then it dissolves in a warm liquid, mostly water.

Vegetable gelatin

Obtained from peas, it is even less used than animal gelatin. The action and method of use are similar to animal gelatin, with the difference that the wines obtained are softer because it binds to the most astringent tannins and which produces less waste lees.

Another interesting clarification material is i enological tannins, but these deserve a separate study. In the meantime, I recommend that you also read this article dedicated to sulfur dioxide.

Cheers

Chiara

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