Saturday, 8 March 2014

Fining Trials

Last shift, I was delighted to gain a small insight into one part of the winemaker's role from a sensory perspective.   

As each wine reaches its final stages of preparation, the winemakers need to decide the quantities of fining agents (if any) that will be added to the wine during cold stabilisation. This is their last chance to 'fine tune' the wine and ensure the mouthfeel, body and astringency are at their optimum for the desired style and character of the wine.  The decisions are made based upon a fining trial.

Each trial works just like a mini science experiment.  There are a number of samples of the wine all lined up in wine glasses. The first is a control sample with nothing added (for comparative purposes). Then there are series of between 4 to 6 glasses of wine with increasing amounts of each fining agent. 

setup for a fining trial
The winemakers go along and taste every glass, then write down which levels of additive they feel are the optimum. They also have to keep in mind that too much additive can 'strip' the colour and flavour out of the wine.

Interestingly the two winemakers running the trial came up with totally different opinions on the amount of each additive that was best!