Filtration involves passing the wine through some sort of filter to remove sediment and bacteria. Unfortunately, it also removes tannins and pigments. Because a wine’s flavor and aroma profile can be diluted through filtration, many premium wineries refuse to use it. It is generally used for high production wines.
Fining is the process of adding a substance that bonds to particles in the wine and then sinks to the bottom of the container. The particles and the fining substance are then removed. Fining agents include gelatin, bentonite isinglass, casein, and egg whites.
The least invasive clarification process to a wine’s character is racking. It is also the most labor-intensive and expensive. When a wine is racked it is physically removed from the sediment that slowly accumulates at the bottom of the container. The process usually needs to be carried out several times to fully clarify a wine.
Cold stabilization is a clarification process used to reduce the amount of tartaric acid in a wine. Tartaric acid crystallizes at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The wine is cooled to this temperature, and the tartaric solids are removed through racking.
Another way to remove excessive tartrate crystals is through electrodialysis. This process is more energy efficient than cold stabilization, and is steadily being adopted by more producers.
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