Ask Wine Wizard

Can I Reduce Tannins in a Wine Kit Without Aging?


Mark Kincy — Burke, Virginia asks,

I seem to have extracted too much tannin during primary fermentation of my Cellar Craft Carmenère kit because the must is quite tannic and bitter. This is probably because instead of just punching down, I also squeezed the bag containing the grape solids (grape pack that accompanied the wine kit) once/day. I did this with a large stirring spoon, squeezing the bag repeatedly against the inside of the primary pail. This wine is currently in secondary fermentation, but I’m wondering if there is anything I can do to reduce the tannins short of waiting for several years for it to hopefully mellow out. Is there anything you can recommend to reduce the tannins of this current batch to a reasonable level?

It seems to me like your Carmenère is a candidate for one of the “Wine Wizard’s” cheapest, easiest and most favorite ways to improve a tannic wine; egg white fining! What could be simpler (or more traditional) than grabbing an egg or two from the fridge. Egg whites are mostly made up of a pure protein called albumen, which has been used by winemakers for centuries to clarify, settle and lessen the tannin content in their wines.  Depending on how much you add, the egg whites will cling to an increasingly large amount of the bitter and tannic elements in your wine and, as the protein molecules stick together and get bigger, they will eventually become so heavy as to fall to the bottom of your carboy, barrel or tank, effectively forming a layer of sediment at the bottom off of which you can rack the cleaned-up and less-tannic wine. Sometimes wines just need a little bit of added egg white to get the desired effect, say like a Pinot Noir. Heavier reds tend to need a heavier hand, and
Response by Alison Crowe.