Winemaking: Egg-White Fining

So: Having made ~300L of red wine that is truly excellent in all respects except clarity and mouth-feel (i.e. it is perfectly opaque, and “chewy,” almost in the mouth), i decided to take my friend ZéCarlos’ advice, and try this process of egg-white fining.

Essentially, the steps folllowed were these:

  • 1. Pump the wine from “cuba” (500L stainless steel tank with floating airtight lid) where it has been resting into the “dorna” (500L plastic tub) for temporary holding;
  • 2. Clean the lees out of cuba where the wine has been resting since primary fermentation was completed last autumn (NB: wine was “racked” once since then, in late December of last year);
  • 3. Separate 8-10 egg whites (tho i used a full dozen, being a kitchen klutz, i probably got whites of maybe 9 eggs total into the bowl), whisked (not whipped!) into a pint of water with a pinch of salt;
  • 4. Pump the wine from dorna back into the cuba, swirling it along the site to create a vortex, into which the eggwhite mixture is poured, mixing gently with a stick, to ensure uniform distribution thru the wine, without creating a froth)
  • 5. Once the transfer of wine is complete, give it a final stir, put the lid back on the cuba, and clean house (wash dorna, pump, hoses, etc. -will need all that stuff again at bottling time, which will be soon*).

So now: It is to wait and watch this process proceed to the point of clarifying the wine, stopping it before it “strips” the wine of its body -hard to imagine, this wine has so much body, but we shall see! I am told that initial reaction should begin after 24 hours, and i should start checking the wine after 4 days, “looking for clarity about 1 or two feet above the surface. Then, once you are satisfied the wine has been adequately fined, rack the wine carefully into another barrel, drawing out the whites and remaining sediment (use a candlelight to look for and prevent any solids from making it into the second barrel, if possible). Discard the gunk at the bottom (or use it to make the worst scrambled eggs ever 🙂

* About bottling time: my plan was to do it sooner -usually around Easter time, as is traditional in these parts- but i was overseas at that time, then had a ton of work to do on return, while i was researching and fretting over whether to take a chance on this or not. Am still a bit nervous about it -the wine is so flavorful at this point, i sure would hate for anything to spoil it- but to render a product that others should enjoy (besides myself and some hardcore aficionados of such rustic & robust wine), i figured that this was worth a try. Stay tuned for updates!