I agree with your analysis, especially in the last paragraph. If I were to have trouble clearing a wine over an extended bulk aging period, I wouldn't hesitate to use some fining agents. I date and keep the fining agents provided with the kits. My thought process is that if it's not needed and the wine clears in time without it, I try not to use it, but its a good fall back option when the wine tells you it needs help.............But unlike the sorbate, I wouldn't toss the bentonite package away. Hold on to it as a backup if necessary as it can always be added later for a little extra help.
When I only had a couple of Carboys, I would use bentonite to free up the carboy. I've now 8 six gallon carboys and 3 five gallon Culligan water bottles so long bulk storage is not a problem.So typically I have used all the agents included in the kit. I am considering using no clearing/fining agents in the Eclipse Bravado kit I'm starting on tomorrow, beginning with no bentonite. Thoughts?
I'm assuming we're still talking about the Bravado kit? If so, it's a dry red, there is no need for sorbate unless you plan to add sugar to it yourself. Sorbate is #1 on my Must Skip list for all dry wines.I skipped bentonite in the beginning. I am hoping to only use K-meta and Sorbate, and nothing else for this wine.
While that is true, it's not a constant, as all wines are not protein unstable, but some are. If I recall the UC Davis literature, their testing was to heat wine to 80F for two hours to test for protein instability. At that point, all of the wines in their test that had been fined with bentonite remained clear, half of the unfined wines exhibited some degree of protein haze, so it may be a concern if you allow your wines to get to temperatures beyond those that we typically try to age and drink our wines.One function of bentonite as I understand it is to heat stabilize the wine. With higher temps, the proteins AZMDTed talked about will precipitate and cloud the wine. So let's say you bulk age and bottle clear wine at a certain temp. Then for whatever reason, that bottle finds itself 5F warmer than the temp at which it cleared. Those proteins precipitate and cloud the wine. The bentonite is not a guarantee, but it some measure of protection against that.
That is what I was taught anyway.