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Answers to questions you might have about this part of the winemaking processChances are you follow this blog because you are interested in vegan products and when the topic of “vegan wine” came up, you may have asked yourself “I thought all wine was vegan?” Then later you heard that it is mainly in the fining process that animal products are used (although also in the soil), but why do we “fine” wine at all?
Fining is a winemaking process that aims to clarify and stabilize a wine, whereas a fining agent is one of a range of special materials added to the juice to coagulate or absorb and quickly precipitate the particles (called colloids) suspended in the juice. Fining is considered important because by encouraging these microscopic articles out of the wine, the wine is less likely to become hazy or cloudy after bottling and therefore more visually appealing. Fining also removes hydrogen sulfide and bitter flavors.
No, not really. Most young wines, if left long enough under good conditions will eventually reach the same state of clarity as fining can achieve within months, but fining saves money for the producer, and eventually the consumer. Fining is most effective in removing molecules which include tannins, pigmented tannins, other phenolics, and heat-unstable proteins. A wide variety of fining agents are used, ranging from egg whites, casein, fish bladders and bentonite clay deposits. The good news is that many winemakers are dropping the use of animal-derived fining agents and using only bentonite. This is because many of the aforementioned animal-based agents are declared “allergic substances” and in the EU, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, for instance, they must be declared on the label if such a substance is above the detectable limits. It is becoming more expensive, therefore, for winemakers to use animal-based fining methods. It’s important to note that fining agents do not change the flavor of the wine. They are merely used to improve the stability and clarity of the wine.
To sign up to receive our vegan wines made with only vegan (or zero!) fining agents, check out our wine club offerings.