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Every winemaker endeavours to produce the best wines they can and picking fruit at the optimal time makes life in the winery easier with flavours and structure regularly falling into place. Sometimes things may not be completely perfect and fining agents to remove "background noise" (things that may subdue aromas or are bitter on the palate) become useful tools in achieving this goal. The "one percenters" are crucial and short cuts should never be entertained, although efficiency should not be ignored either.
In the formative years of my career in the 1990's, I trialed many fining agents and found that several of the proteinaceous fining agents required long winded and often messy preparation before use. With several steps in the preparation process, there was more chance of human error occurring, especially if different personnel were involved, leading to possible inconsistencies between batches affecting results. This group of fining agents include products such as egg whites, isinglass, milk and milk derived products. Although their results were good, due to the aforementioned potential inconsistencies and sometimes messy preparation, I sought an alternative. Although rarely required, if there is a need, I now use a non-proteinaceous agent that is non-soluble, synthetic with a high molecular weight.
This product requires little preparation, is easy to use, settles quickly and has a broad spectrum of uses. Although subjective (as with many things in the wine industry), I found the results were equal to and regularly better than its proteinaceous counterparts. Therefore, when required, I have used this product ever since. In saying that, I am led to believe some of the newer proteinaceous products on the market are easier to use than their older counterparts, but use of these products would not allow me to call my wines 'vegan friendly'. - Matt Wenk.
- Matt Wenk