WinExpert bentonite dissolving hints / tricks

Discussion in 'Kit Winemaking' started by nwwoods, Jun 18, 2019.

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  1. Jun 18, 2019 #1

    nwwoods

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    Everyone's kits usually come with a bentonite packet that says to dissolve it in some hot water (2 cups, 1L) before pouring in the juice. This has been no trouble in the past. However...

    In the last few batches I've made, the bentonite in the WinExpert kits just will NOT dissolve without extreme action. And even then I can't get it all to dissolve! Only seeing on WinExpert kits. Have tried RJ Spagnols with no issue.

    What am I doing wrong? Is there some trick now? Do I need to use a blender? This never happened until last winter, to present.

    [mods: looked for a thread on this but could not find, so starting. move if needed]
     
  2. Jun 19, 2019 #2

    jsbeckton

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    Never did anything but give it a quick shake or maybe a bit of whisking and never had any problems.

    Are you planning to age the kit before bottling? If so you don’t need the betonite.
     
  3. Jun 19, 2019 #3

    cmason1957

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    I mostly ignore the amount of water the kit says to use and the temp. I put in about a gallon of water at Cellar temp. Sprinkle the bentonite all over while vigorously stirring the water. I haven't ever had a problem getting it all to dissolve quite fine.
     
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  4. Jun 19, 2019 #4

    nwwoods

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    Thank you for the thoughts. Never had a problem until these last few kits. Very perplexing - nobody else has had this happen? Do intend to let it sit on oak cubes a few months before bottling; haven't seen any bentonite clumps, suspect they get left behind in racking. Just wondering if the lack of full bentonite integration in primary means anything in the finished product?
     
  5. Jun 19, 2019 #5

    Johnd

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    When I was doing kits, I’d boil 1/2 gallon or so of water, put it into the fermenter bucket, and sprinkle in the bentonite while stirring, always worked.

    Even if your concoction was a little clumpy at the beginning of fermentation, I believe that it would be broken apart and distributed by the stirring combined with the action of the CO2 bubbles attaching to the particles and floating them up in the wine column repeatedly for days.
     
  6. Jun 19, 2019 #6

    salcoco

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    bentonite also help remove proteins in the wine especially fruit wines which aids in proper clearing post fermentation. peach, and pear wine should not be made without use of bentonite.
     
  7. Jun 19, 2019 #7

    Chuck E

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    I had this happen to a kit last year. I whisked it for a half hour and never did get it to dissolve to my satisfaction. I have mostly given up on using it in my wine making, and I have not noticed much difference. I let Time do its magic.
     
  8. Jun 19, 2019 #8

    Elizajean

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    Yes, this has been the case with the new WE kits, since they've changed their instructions. The bentonite is more course and it takes more effort to get a slurry. I put very hot water, more than they call for, in the fermentor, add the bentonite, and literally beat the carpe diem out of the mixture. Then, I just leave it as is and continue. No problems with the wine. I did recently see a thread regarding this issue, but I do not know where. One person mixes it up with hot water in a blender, another boils a slurry. I don't think it's that critical because these kits are meant to be successful in a store environment, and they will not do all of that. You could use your degassing whisk if you have one, I just use the big spoon.
     
  9. Jun 19, 2019 #9

    Prairie Vino

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    I had problems with my last kit, a WineExpert, I followed my usual routine of adding boiling water to the fermenter, followed by sprinkling the bentonite and stirring. I had to smear the resulting blob along the sides repeatedly followed by vigorous stirring. I never did get all of it dissolved. I can't remember if I have made a WineExpert before, but I have never had trouble before.
     
  10. Jun 19, 2019 #10

    stickman

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    I've only used bentonite on a few white wines over the years, in fact I still have the original bag of bentonite I purchased over 20 years ago. It's the traditional bentonite that requires a blender and hot water plus 48hrs of hydration before use. The newer forms of agglomerated bentonite readily available today reportedly don't need this extensive preparation, most indicate a half hour of mixing by hand in cold water is adequate.

    Bentonite does vary in quality so it may be possible that WE received some off spec material, either that or they changed the product or suppliers. According to Bruce Zoecklein of Virginia Tech, high mineral content water, such as hard well water, can cause clumping if used for hydrating the bentonite.
     
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  11. Jun 20, 2019 #11

    GaDawg

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    Hand blender
     
  12. Jun 21, 2019 #12

    facn1989

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    I always put it in a blender just in case (obviously sanitize well)
     
  13. Jun 21, 2019 #13

    George Burgin

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    How about this for an idea? Omission. I’ve made nearly 100 kits and stopped adding the bentonite in the single digits. I don’t use clearing agents either and, I have no problems making great wine. For me, I want to limit what I’m adding to the must and to the finished wine. If I’ve learned anything, TIME is the best agent to add at all phases of wine making.
     
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  14. Jul 5, 2019 #14

    CabSauv

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    I actually just experienced this with the kit I just started yesterday. Some of it clumped up into a sludge-like consistency and refused to cooperate. I added more water, boiling this time, and stirred to beat hell, no dice. So I just dumped it out of the primary fermenter through a strainer and saved what liquid I did have. The sludge got tossed and cleaned out of the primary fermenter and that was that. I think the best approach is to make sure to kneed the bentonite in the pouch before opening to make sure it's not all clumped up and then slowly add some, stir, add some, stir - repeat. As others said, you could also blend it before adding it next time but if you're letting your wine sit for a few months in glass and using clearing agents later I wouldn't worry too much about it.
     
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  15. Jul 5, 2019 #15

    DCTWinemaker

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  16. Jul 5, 2019 #16

    DCTWinemaker

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    I started a WE Eclipse Cab yesterday and had the same problem. It’s my first kit so I never used Bent. before. No matter how much I stirred it wouldn’t all dissolve. The remaining amount could be best described as “gritty”. I decided to just move forward and add the juice. Also getting the grape skins into the muslim bag was a nightmare even though I slit the bag and didn’t use the spout. Someone suggested just adding the skins to the must and strain later. Wish I had listened.
     
  17. Jul 5, 2019 #17

    Brian55

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    I wouldn't sweat skipping the bentonite. Mosti premium kits no longer include bentonite. They simply recommend stirring regularly during fermentation.
     
  18. Jul 6, 2019 #18

    ras2018

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    I have purchased bentonite that dissolves fine. If these kit manufacturers are giving bogus bentonite out, buy a container and use that. Most of that stuff is dirt cheap too.
     
  19. Jul 6, 2019 #19

    VCN

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    Don’t worry about getting it all dissolved fully it will be fine. Trick for the grape skins is stretch the muslin bag over a large pitcher and take the cap off, then squeeze as much as you can out. Add some water put the cap back on and then shake the skin bag, cut the corner and pour the rest in.
     
  20. Jul 6, 2019 #20

    DCTWinemaker

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    Thanks so much VCN!! Thanks everyone for helping a newbie!!
     

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