Chilling to clear?

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Feb 16, 2019
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South Louisiana
I ferment in my shop and to control temp I ferment in a cooler, and keep the water bath temp regulated by putting bottles of ice in the cooler water bath which keeps the primary fermenter at the temp I want (usually around 70F). I completed fermentation on a Riesling, and I am limited on space in the house, so I was going to keep the carboy (on 2nd rack) in the cooler while it clarifies. My question is, if I could speed clarification by chilling it down to say 50F? Would it remove any flavor? and while I am asking... what temp would it need to be taken to to "cold crash"? I haven't done it before, no issues with tartaric crystals but I could dump ice in the cooler and get the temp down if there is a benefit.



wine dabbler
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Nov 5, 2006
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Raleigh, NC, USA
In general, cooling the wine will increase the rate of precipitation of the lees. How much, I can't give you a solid answer. I would not chill the wine below 58 F unless the wine is high in acid (see below).

Why 58 F? My cellar is that temperature in the winter and all wines (red, white, fruit) spend several months there. So far none have dropped tartrate crystals, and in my case this is good as I don't have high acid wines, so I do not want to reduce the acid. My practical experience is that this temperature causes no undesired side effects on the wine.

Cold crashing (also called cold stabilization) is bringing the wine below 40 F, with the optimal temperature between 32 and 36 F according to various books I've. Some folks go below 32 F, but keep in mind that wine freezes at ~22 F (higher temperature if ABV is lower) and freezing the wine is bad. IME anything below 40 F works, with closer to 32 F being better.

My understanding is that cold stabilization helps with clearing as the crystals help pull solids out of suspension.

However, unless your wine needs acid reduction, do not cold stabilize. Tartaric acid will probably precipitate, and may drop too much acid, leaving your wine flat and lifeless.

We recently had a discussion regarding chilling wines (last fall maybe?) and it was suggested to chill wines to 50 to 55 F for a few weeks. Some crystals may drop, which prevents crystals from forming when chilling the wine before serving.

I suggest chilling a bottle for 2 weeks at 50 F to see if crystals form. If not, storing the wine at 50 F should have no effect. If crystals DO form, taste test that wine against the main batch to determine if the acid reduction is good or bad.