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topic 59046

Possible to use electrically charged metal plates to clear wine before bottling?

November 13, 2012

Q. I make very small quantities of country (fruit) wines as a hobby. Started this hobby about a year ago so I know only a little about wine-making. In the process of fermenting fruit in 1- 6 gallon glass carboys (containers), the juice will very slowly clear as microscopic particles of protein and fruit and yeast flocculate and drop out as lees. Typically, wine makers add substances such as bentonite clay or Sparkolloid to help clear the wine. These additives seem to work by attracting the positively or negatively charged ions of the suspended particles. I am wondering if it is possible to charge a metal plate and place it on the outside of the glass carboy such that it will attract the particles without the addition of these substances. Would the walls of a glass container be too thick an insulator to allow the charge to impact the particles in the wine must? (inserting the plate into the liquid would not be practical as the metal would likely create off flavors in the wine and certainly change the chemistry of the wine). How much charge would be needed to produce any effect on the particles? Is this charge something I could create in my basement? What kind of metal would be best to use?

My background is in the social sciences and I really know nothing about metallurgy or metal finishing, but I wonder if any of the readers of this site may know something of both home wine making AND finishing and might advise me if this idea is cock-eyed.

Bernard Smith
hobbyist - wine maker - Saratoga Springs, New York, USA

February 24, 2013

A. Firstly let me say, I love a good home brew wine or beer so I highly encourage you to keep trying things.
Now for the bad news, glass is a wonderful insulator to electricity. So it's not really going to do anything for you there, nor impart any charge or change to your wine.

Bentonite and your other clarifying additives are cheap and pretty easy to come by, but outside of mechanical filtration or centrifuging you're pretty well stuck on speeding up the clarification process.

Marc Banks
- Boone, North Carolina

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