Can You Help Me Clear My Red Wine?

Bentonite For Clearing WineMy red wines have been coming out great, but are not clear even after many rackings. Is there anything to add to reds wines to prevent this?
Name: Bruce K.
State: CA
Hello Bruce,
Anytime a wine is not clearing the first thing you have to ask yourself is: “has the wine completed its fermentation?” The number one reason a wine does not to clear is because the fermentation is still continuing very slowly. The slightest amount of fermentation can cause a significant amount of cloudiness in a wine.
For this reason it is important that you check your wine with a hydrometer to verify that the fermentation has finished. You should expect to find a reading of .998 or less on the Specific Gravity scale. If your reading is higher than this, then your problem is getting the fermentation to finish, not clearing the wine. Going over the article, Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure should help you in this regard.
If your fermentation is complete, then yes, there are some things you can do to help speed the clearing along. Winemakers use what’s called fining agents to help clear a wine. There are several different types of fining agents. Each will clear a wine in its own way.  Often, more than one type of fining agent will be used in the same wine.
If it seems that the cloudiness is not minor, but significant, then you’ll want to start off by adding a dose of Bentonite. We offer it as Speedy Bentonite and it comes complete with its own directions. Bentonite is good for clearing out yeast cells and other proteins that are causing a significant haze.
What bentonite is not good at is giving a brilliant polish to the wine. For this you will want to follow up with either Isinglass or Kitosol 40. Each of these are good at giving your wine a illuminating polish, but they should not be used until the bentonite has had ample time to remove the bulk of the cloudiness, first. This can happen as quickly as 24 hours, but can take up to 3 days. After each of these treatments you will want to rack the wine off the resulting sediment.
Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.