Copper sulphate is used as a fining agent in the wine making process to remove unwanted hydrogen sulphides and other sulphide like aromas in wine. Copper instabilities are one of the most common instabilities found in wine, due to the small amount of copper needed to cause instability in wine. Copper sulphates react with the other sulphides in the wine to form insoluble copper sulphide which can then be removed by settling or filtration.
Testing for copper is vitally important. Copper sulphate which is used in the fining process is a toxic substance. Over use of copper sulphate in the wine can not only greatly decrease the taste of the wine but also be a health risk to the consumer. Instability in the wine, which is initially manifested as a white haze (white wines) and later as a reddish-brow precipitate, could result from storage of bottled wine containing levels of copper above 0.5 mg/L. Unless exposed to significant airborne pollution or vineyard sprays, increased concentrations in wine result from contamination during post fermentation processing.
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