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Wine Advisor Express:
Wine Vocabulary - Bentonite

What does mud have to do with wine? Bentonite, a form of clay, is sometimes used in wine making as a "fining" material. The dried, finely powdered clay is stirred into wine during wine making, where it attracts proteins in suspension that would otherwise cause the wine to appear hazy or cloudy. After sufficient time has passed, the bentonite falls to the bottom of the vessel, taking the hazy proteins with it, and clear wine is siphoned off the top, leaving the sediment behind.

Although in theory none of the fining material remains in the finished wine, vegetarian and vegan wine lovers still generally prefer to seek out wine clarified with bentonite in preference to such organic fining materials as egg whites or isinglass, a fish-based product.

Many modern wines aren't clarified in this fashion at all, but are forced through extremely fine filters. At the other extreme, some artisanal wines are sold "unfiltered and unfined," complete with all the natural sediment that nature intended.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2001
Copyright 2001 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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