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What Are Fining Agents Used For

What Are Fining Agents Used For

Fining is a centuries-old process used to clarify wine. Fining removes large debris in order to purify and it also provides bacterial stabilisation. When the fining process takes place, fining agents are used - and winemakers will tend to choose an agent based on the specific ends they’re trying to achieve for their wine.

In this article, we are going to be talking all about fining agents - what they are used for and how they are used to do the job that they do, along with the different types of fining agents that are used for fining wine. This includes both the traditional non-vegan agents and also the more modern, vegan fining options that are available today, so keep on reading for more.



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What Are Fining Agents?

Fining agents are components that are added during the winemaking process in order to remove unwanted materials from wine.

There are many different products that can be used as a fining agent, many of the materials that are most commonly used involve products that come from an animal, products such as egg whites, otherwise known as ‘albumin’ and casein which is a protein found in milk - these are the main and most commonly used fining agents.


What Are Fining Agents Used For?

The fining agents are used for the process of fining in wine. When fining agents are added to the wine they help to adsorb any larger particles in the liquid which helps to speed up the winemaking process. This is a great benefit to using fining agents, which could otherwise make the process a lot longer.


Many Wines Not Vegan Friendly

The fining agent substance casein or albumin is what prevents the wine from being marketed as vegan. The problem is many people do not know that wine is not vegan because they are unaware of the process in which wine is made and the strong possibility that animal products were used when producing the wine.

Other common fining agents include gelatin, fish oil, and isinglass which is a protein found in fish bladders, and was used more so in the past than it does today. These fining agents are what help to give the wine that brilliant clarity, they remove solids and excess colour and oxidative taint, giving wine that clear and crisp colour and look.

The fining agent is removed from the wine once the fining process has been completed, but it is the process used along with the ting traces of the agent that will be inevitably left behind are what makes a lot of wine unsuitable for vegans.

Due to the fining agents being taken out of the wine after the fining process is complete they are considered processing aids and not strictly ingredients - a factor as to why the labels often don’t contain the animal products information.


The Fining Process

Fining is used in the process of all wine making, whether that be still, sweet or sparkling wines, the method of fining benefits all kinds of wines the same. The process of fining is a century-old process to clarify wine.

Once the winemaker adds the fining agent to the wine, the agent attaches to microscopic particles, eliminating them as solids which makes the impurities easier to illuminate.

The process illuminates wine of unwanted proteins, tannins, pigments, microbes and other materials that could later turn the wine cloudy or cause it to reboot its fermentation in the bottle.

Removing some of the tannins in wine helps to smooth the wine's texture, it also helps fix the colour in white wine and remove some of the colours in red wines. Winemakers overall choose fine agents to create that silkiness as too much tannin can be unbalanced so removing some tannins can bring the wine balance.


Filtration in Wine Making

Filtration in winemaking works by passing the wine through a material that contains a series of very small holes, similar to a coffee filter.

Liquid and particles small enough to fit through the holes will pass through and any impurities not small enough to fit through the holes will effectively be removed from the liquid. Impurities such as undesired particles and microbes will be caught, only letting the pure liquid through.


What Is the Difference Between Filtration and Fining

Filtration takes place after fining but before the wine goes into the bottle and may be done after primary fermentation too, prior to the wine going into the barrel and right before bottling. Fining is used to remove large debris first then filtering further clarifies the wine by removing any residual particles.


Vegan Fining Agents

It is not just vegans that have an interest in whether the food and drink they consume involve animal products or not and if it is suitable for them to eat or drink. In these modern times, more and more people are opting for and prefer to purchase organic products when shopping for food and beverages.

Historically, fining agents only came from animal products but nowadays there is a range of animal product substitutes available.

Due to the demand of people preferring a product to be organic, more and more winemakers are opting for those alternative fining agents to the animal products and adopting more natural methods. Whether people are concerned about animal products or if they are not as bothered as some, one thing is for sure - most people would want to know if something has traces of animal in it or if something is made using animal products.


Natural Fining Agents

Wine can actually be left for nature to take its course and for it to ‘self-fine’ and stabilise itself, all on its own. Self-fining is a totally natural way of fining wine and the best of all - it eliminates the need for animal products at this part of the process, meaning that the end wine product will be suitable for all.

The only thing with the self-fining method is that this natural method can take some time to complete. Winemakers of course want to make the most of the winemaking process and want the process to be as efficient as possible, this is when many will opt to use a vegan-friendly fining agent instead to replace the animal product version, such as clay-based fining methods or using pea gelatine.

Clay-based agents are commonly used and have been proven to be particularly effective at fining wine, whilst some other vegan-friendly agents include carbon, limestone, vegetable plaques and plant casein too. With all these vegan alternatives now being available, there is less of a reason for winemakers to use animal products nowadays along with vegan products rising in popularity.


ThinK Wine

As you may know, here at ThinK Wine we produce sparkling wine and Prosecco products that are completely vegan and organic and we always aim to operate our business as sustainably as possible.

We understand that it is not always possible to check if a bottle of wine or a wine brand is vegan and it is often rare to find this information printed on the label or available elsewhere.

At ThinK Wine, we believe in complete transparency and so we are proud to be waving the vegan flag for wine and sharing the message that lots of wine is made using animal products.

To help give you that guilt-free drinking experience, our ThinK Wine products are low calorie and low carb too without compromising on the quality or taste - and we are so happy to be able to share our products with other sparkling wine fans!

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