What is Bentonite?
Bentonite is a gray, clay granule that is used in wines as a clarifier. It is unique in that it possess a negative electrostatic charge. (Just a fancy word for static electricity) This attracting charge along with hydrogen bonding, causes suspended particles in the wine to cling to it as it settles to the bottom of the container.
What Are The Advantages Of Using Bentonite?
There are several advantages to using Bentonite. It is very effective in dragging out yeast, tannins and other stubborn protein-based particles that may want to linger after fermentation. The result is a wine with a glassy clear appearance and a color that is radiant. It also helps to reduce the occurrence of certain off-flavors, as well as reduce the wine's ability to oxidize.
Are All Bentonites The Same?
Not at all. The particular type of Bentonite we offer comes from a specific mine in Wyoming that is known for providing Bentonite with an unusually high electrostatic charge. That is why we call ours Speedy Bentonite. There are other major source of Bentonite, but they are primarily intend to be used as a bedding sealant for watering ponds.
How Is Bentonite Used?
Bentonite is relatively easy to use. You start out by mixing it with water into a slurry. The slurry will have the consistency of a thin, watery cement mix. A dose of the slurry mix is then stirred into the wine. It should also be noted here that the Bentonite should not be added to the wine until the fermentation is complete.
The method we recommended for making the slurry is to use boiling water and to mix it in a blender. Blend it for 1 to 2 minutes until a creamy head is formed. The slurry then needs to set for about an hour so as to allow the Bentonite granules to swell and become saturated. The recommended mix is 3 tablespoons of Bentonite to 1 pint of boiling water. It is then recommended that you add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the slurry mix to each gallon of wine that is to be treated.
Are There Any Tips For Using Bentonite?
There are a couple of thing you can do to make your Bentonite treatment more effective:
First of all, the colder the wine is the stronger the Bentonite's static charge. At room temperature Bentonite is usually adequately effective, but by chilling the wine down to around 45 degrees the Bentonite's strength is enhanced considerably.
Secondly, when adding the Bentonite to the wine, it is best to stir it in thoroughly. Don't agitate the wine, but smoothly blend it in to where you know, without question, that it is evenly dispersed throughout the wine.
Also, stirring the wine several times after the Bentonite has been add, will give the Bentonite more time to attract particles before settling. For example, stir it once every hour or so throughout an evening.
Be sure to check out our wine making ingredients and wine making equipment!
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.