Stabilizers & Clarifiers
Your wine is done fermenting! But, it’s still not quite ready to be bottled and enjoyed. Wine should be stabilized and clarified before bottling both for safety and for the best taste.
Stabilizing your wine makes sure that the yeast is neutralized and won’t begin re-fermenting. Unstable wine can be fizzy, create more sediment in the bottles, and even blow the corks right out of them! Stabilizing your wine also allows it to have a longer shelf life.
When stabilizing your wine there are a few products you can use:
Potassium Metabisulphite is a chemical that effectively deactivates the yeast in your wine and helps preserve it from unwanted bacteria. For best results you can mix 1 teaspoon of the powder into a 23L (6 gallon) batch of wine once fermentation is complete. Potassium Metabisulphite also helps with clarification of your wine so its best added into your secondary fermenter a few weeks before you plan to bottle. While this product helps preserve your wine and deactivate yeast, it does not guarantee that fermentation will not restart. It is best used in addition to Potassium Sorbate.
Potassium Sorbate is a chemical that can stop re-fermentation from occurring. It is best used with Potassium Metabisulphite and for best results you can mix 2 teaspoons of Potassium Sorbate into a 23L (6 gallon) batch of wine once fermentation is complete. You can do this at the same time as the metabisulphite in your secondary fermenter.
Campden Tablets are often used as an alternative to Metabisulphite and Sorbate for stabilizing your wine and deactivating yeast. They are designed for ease of use in tablet form. To use Campden tablets simply crush 1 tablet per gallon of your wine and mix once fermentation is complete. Like Potassium Metabisulphite, Campden Tablets also aid with clarification, so it is best to add into your secondary fermenter a few weeks prior to bottling.
Clarifying your wine has a big impact on the presentation and flavour of your wine, and also makes it easier to keep your bottles clean. Aging your wine is a good cost effective way to clear your wine, but may take a considerable amount of time. Products like Kieselsol and Chitosan help speed the process up and are completely flavourless and odourless.
Kieselsol and Chitosan are to be used once fermentation is complete and the wine is stabilized.
Kieselsol must be added first. To use Kieselsol simply mix the packet into your wine and give a gentle stir. You must then wait 1 to 24 hours for the next step which is adding Chitosan. If your wine has considerable floating sediment it is more effective to wait the 24 hours.
Chitosan must be added 1 to 24 hours after Kieselsol and stirred very gently. Within a few days to a week your wine will become clear.
Once wine is clear simply rack it off the sediment and either bottle or reseal in a clean container with limited airspace.
If your wine is very heavy with suspended sediment you may use 2 packets of each at a time.
Note: when making wine with fresh fruits that contain pectin, it may be necessary to use pectic enzyme to get your finished wine fully clear. Kieselsol and Chitosan will still work to bring down sediment in this case, but not pectin haze.
Clarifying your wine is different than filtering your wine which works further to ensure a crystal clear presentation and finish. To learn more about wine filtration see here.