So why is my wine hazy?
Many homemade winemakers have found themselves with wine that has a haze they cannot seem to eliminate through traditional methods. There are a few different reasons that your wine could have a hazy quality, but the most common is the presence of pectin. Either filtering or fining the wine prior to bottling can remove most undesirable elements in wine, but pectin is not so easily removed.
Pectin is the element in fruit that holds things together, particularly juice with fibers. Pectin puts the gel into jellies and jams. Great for breakfast, not so great for wine. The problem is that fining agents don’t readily bind with pectin and filtering doesn’t seem to do the trick. In addition, over fining or filtering can create other problems with your wine, so unless you like that hazy look, you’ll need another method. Fortunately, there is hope.
Pectic enzyme can reduce or eliminate haze caused by pectin in must or wine. It works by breaking down the cell walls of plant material, eliminating the gel that forms by the presence of pectin. It can be purchased in wine supply stores either in powdered or liquid form and is relatively inexpensive. A one-ounce bottle of either powder or liquid typically costs under $5 and can clear up to 40 gallons of juice or wine.
How to Clear the Haze
The best approach is to add ½ to 1 teaspoon per gallon of must, stirring thoroughly to ensure that it is spread throughout the must. Pectic enzyme works best if added prior to primary fermentation, at least 12 hours before the addition of yeast. This allows for the breakdown of pectin early on, before it can create the gel that causes hazy wine.
It can be added later on, but more may be required to clear the wine and you’re much better off adding it as a preventative measure. It has no significant side effects and will not negatively impact the overall flavor of your wine, so it’s a no brainer!
Be aware that not all haze is caused by pectin, so if you add pectic enzyme just after crush and still see haze, it may be caused by lactic acid or starch. Haze is most commonly caused by pectin, however and adding it early on will allow you to rule out pectin as the cause.