Bottling is the final step in the wine production process. If your wine going to look good in the glass it needs to look good when it goes into the bottle. Once it’s in the bottle it’s hard to clear up any issues.
Recently Tom wrote in the with following situation:
Can I Still Clear the Wine?
In truth the wine will clear on its own in the bottle given enough time. The problem is that whatever settles out of your wine will also be in the bottle and prone to getting stirred up when the wine is served. With careful pouring and by decanting you may be able to keep that sediment from going into someone’s glass. This, understandably, isn’t a perfect solution as it complicates how you serve the wine but may be your best bet. Certainly you could pour it back into a carboy and do another round with a clarifier, however, it will come at a cost. Emptying all those bottles, mixing in a clarifier, and re-bottling your wine will expose it to a lot of oxygen. While your wine may still taste okay when it’s re-bottled its shelf life will likely be greatly reduced. I would venture to guess that even a red wine would show signs of oxidation within six months to a year. A white wine would be more susceptible to this double handling and show signs of oxidation much sooner.
What’s the Answer?
That depends on what matters most to you. While a cloudy wine may not look great in the glass the haze usually doesn’t affect the actual flavor of the wine. Given that the wine can clear in the bottle if given the time a bit of decanting may be the easiest and least harmful solution. On the other hand if you want to give this wine away and needs it to look its best you may consider going through another clarification. You could even use inert gasses (Private Preserve for example) in the carboy to reduce oxygen exposure. This won’t eliminate oxygen exposure but will at least reduce it. Personally, I would probably keep this wine in the family and either drink it cloudy or decant any sediment that settles out. The wine can still mature over time will serve as a great learning experience.
Avoid Bottling Too Soon
The best solution of course if to avoid bottling a wine before it’s ready. This sure doesn’t help Tom at this point, however, it’s worth noting for the next wine. Time is on your side when making wine. Most wines clear and degas themselves without any intervention from the wine maker if given enough time. Kit wines can be ready to bottle six months or so after fermentation finishes even without clarifiers. This is a long time to wait when it’s your first wine though, I know. Even if you use a clarifiying agent and degas your wine properly consider giving your wine one or two more months in the carboy. This should be long enough to make sure that nothing else funny is going to happen. If something does happen, like more sediment dropping out, at least it’ll still be in the carboy where you can access it and take action to fix it. Follow your kit directions or recipe very closely and be sure to thoroughly degas your wine. Clarifiers tend to work more quickly in cooler temperatures so if you’re sure you’re done degassing you could move your wine to a cooler spot to help it clear faster and more completely. Photograph by: Rebecca Searle