Using Bentonite In Winemaking

Bentonite For WinemakingThe wine kits I use come with Bentonite. I am preparing to start my first batch of hard cider, from scratch. Should I use Bentonite in that also?
Name: Betsy L
State: WI
Hello Betsy,
Thanks for the great question about using bentonite! Before I answer your question I would like to go over some things about how bentonite is used in winemaking.
The reason bentonite is used in the wine with the wine ingredient kits is so that the wine will clear up more quickly and be ready to bottle in the 28 days, as these kits promise. The bentonite is put in the wine at the beginning of fermentation.
This is somewhat unusual in winemaking since fining agents are typically added after the fermentation, not before. But you can get away with it if you know the dosage to add and have bench-tested this amount such as the wine ingredient kit producers have done.
The amount of bentonite used in a wine is critical when added before the fermentation. Use too much and you will drag out all the wine yeast and stop the fermentation; don’t use enough and there’s no early clearing of the wine/cider.
To answer your question, yes, go ahead and put bentonite in the wine, but do not use it before the fermentation, but rather, after the fermentation has completed. The dosage listed on the container will be intended for use at this time. It is a much larger dose than what would be used before the fermentation.
Also realize that if you didn’t use any bentonite in the wine at all, it would more than likely clear up on its own just fine anyway. Just not as quickly. Bentonite is generally used in wine right after to the fermentation to speed up the process and make it more stable sooner, not necessarily to make the wine better.
Thanks again for such a great question about bentonite and its use in winemaking. We have more information on using bentonite before the fermentation if you are interested.
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.