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THE USE OF FILTRATION IN WINEMAKING

Filtration, although controversial, it is one of the procedures


available at the winery that can be used by the winemaker at
different stages of the production chain. If applied in a
graded fashion it can be of tremendous benefit in obtaining
wines that have a good clarity, excellent colour and no micro
organisms that could spoil the finalised product.
Filtration can be performed based on two principles, depth
filtration and surface or absolute filtration. Depth filtration, also
known as sheet filtration involves the use of a relatively thick
layer of a porous material such as Kieselguhr or diatomaceous
earth, cellulose powder or perlite. It is good for liquids heavily
laden with solid particles, such as juice directly from the press.
s the wine passes through the layers, small particles are
trapped in the tortuous channels.
Kieselguhr or diatomaceous earth is the skeletal remains of diatoms, tiny sea creatures
that inhabited the !orth "ea millions of years ago. #he deposits are ground into a fine
powder and treated with acids and alkali until all that remains is "ilica. $hen these
particles are formed into a bed they produce an effective filter by forming a porous
barrier with numerous and tortuous channels. Kieselguhr forms the basis of two types of
filter which are used for a first filtration, right after fermentation has finished. In both
cases the diatomaceous earth is made into a slurry, with water or wine, and is then dosed
into the cloudy wine to be filtered. #he first system is the rotary vacuum filter which is
the choice for the first filtrations since it can cope with very thick liquids. It consists of a
large hori%ontal drum that has a cylindrical surface formed from a stainless steel mesh
and it is connected to a vacuum pump. Filtration occurs because the Kieselguhr is
trapped by the mesh forming a layer that will act as a sponge. #his type of filter is used
primarily for filtering the lees. &owever, it has the disadvantage that a large area of the
filter is e'posed to air.
#he earth filter was developed to overcome the problem mentioned above of possible
o'idation. It consists of a series of rotating hollow disks with a mesh surface which
operates e'actly as the rotary vacuum filter. It is totally enclosed and can be flushed
with nitrogen before use, to avoid any contact with o'ygen. "heet filtration is another
form of depth filtration commonly used once the gross solids have been removed. It
consists of a fi'ed framework with a fi'ed back plate and a movable front plate.
(etween these two plates it is a chamber called plates, which distributes the wine. #he
wine, however, does not pass through all the sheets from one end to the other but only
through one sheet. #he reason for having numerous sheets is to increase the flow rate.
)ach sheet consists of cellulose fibres that may also contain Kieselguhr to increase
efficiency. lthough the sheets are not e'pensive it is important for the operator to know
and understand the stated ma'imum flow rate and ma'imum pressure differential
between the inlet and the outlet. #he successful filtration will depend on the correct
selection of sheets for each type of wine.
further development in the process of depth filtration it is the understanding that
many particles in suspension carry an electrostatic charge known as %eta potential. It is
possible to incorporate a substance in the structure of the filter medium that also carries
an electrostatic charge. #hese substances will attract particles with the opposite charge
and will be removed. It must be mentioned that %eta potential sheets do not trap
colloids, therefore, fining cannot be replaced.
#he second principle of filtration is the surface filtration, also known as membrane
filtration or cartridge filtration. #he difference with depth filtration is that with this type
of filters the particles are removed at the surface of the filter. It consists of a membrane
with holes of a determined si%e. #his type of filtration requires e'tra care and training
because the membrane can get blocked very quickly, therefore, it should be used only in
the final stages prior to bottling.
lthough the structure of this type of filters is not terribly e'pensive, cartridges or
membranes are. #hese membranes come in different si%e pores, being *+,- cm the most
widely used si%e for the final membrane which removes all yeasts and bacteria. guard
filter it is also used to protect the final membrane from clogging and it is made of a
fibrous material.
It is important to relate pores si%es to the type and style of wine being filtered. .erman
wines need a more stringent filtration due to their usually higher residual sugar and low
alcohol, to prevent a re/fermentation in bottle. In sweet wines it is also mandatory a
good filtration process, also due to the risk of re/fermentation.
modern and effective filtration system it is known as cross flow or tangential
filtration. In all the above mentioned systems the flow of the wine is perpendicular to
the surface of the filter which will gradually block it. If the flow goes across the surface
of the membrane it will help sweep the surface clean. #he wine can circulate repeatedly
past the membrane. nother advantage of this system is that it can be used right after
fermentation up to bottling standards in one pass. It has only the disadvantage of being
quite an e'pensive system.
#he process of filtration is causing more controversy than and other winemaking
procedure in today+s wine industry. #here are those who maintain that filtration ruins
the wine and there is the school that claims that, if properly applied, there is no harm to
the wine. #he fact is that filtration properly used, with care and e'pertise, in a graded
manner, should have no negative effects. #he greater danger with filtration is being
over/%ealous, using sheets that are too tight or membranes that have too small pores.
0roperly applied it gives the wine maker a satisfactory system for the bottling of good
quality commercial wines.
Filtration in winemaking is used to accomplish two objectives, clarification and
microbial stabili%ation. In clarification, large particles that affect the visual appearance
of the wine are removed. In microbial stabili%ation, organisms that affect the stability of
the wine are removed therefore reducing the likelihood of re/fermentation or spoilage.
#he process of clarification is concerned with the removal of particles1 those larger than
-23* micrometers for coarse polishing, particles larger than 32, micrometers for
clarifying or polishing. 4icrobial stabili%ation requires a filtration of at least *.5-
micrometers. &owever, filtration at this level may lighten a wines color and body.
4icrobial stabili%ation does not imply sterility. It simply means that a significant
amount of yeast and bacteria have been removed.
[edit] Bottling
final dose of sulfite is added to help preserve the wine and prevent unwanted
fermentation in the bottle. #he wine bottles then are traditionally sealed with a cork,
although alternative wine closures such as synthetic corks and screwcaps, which are less
subject to cork taint, are becoming increasingly popular.
6,7
#he final step is adding a
capsule
6-7
to the top of the bottle which is then heated
657
for a tight seal.
[edit] Winemake!